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Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies
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Comparative-Historical Social Science (CHSS)

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Political Science and Sociology, the Program in Comparative-Historical Social Science (CHSS) supports training for graduate students interested in comparative and historical research. Students in the program complete their PhD in either political science or sociology, but also receive a certificate from the University for expertise in the interdisciplinary area of CHSS. The program provides students with a common coursework structure integrated with their departmental curricula; resources for student research, including travel abroad; interdisciplinary venues at which to present work in progress and receive feedback; and opportunities for collaborative research.

For information about upcoming events in CHSS, click on the link to our WORKSHOP.

The Program in Comparative-Historical Social Science is directed by Bruce Carruthers, Tony Chen, James Mahoney, and Monica Prasad.


Comparative-historical social science (CHSS) adopts a distinctive set of methodological and theoretical tools for studying the political and social world. These include the following:

  1. Temporally-oriented analysis in which researchers study historical sequences and examine the unfolding of processes over time. The “historical” component of CHSS is not defined by the study of past events; rather, it refers to the use of historical approaches to time and sequence to interpret and explain events in the world.

  2. Theoretically-grounded analysis in which researchers formulate and assess concepts, hypotheses, and interpretations in light of fine-grained evidence from cases. In CHSS, theory development is typically carried out in close relation to particular empirical problems.

  3. Comparative analysis in which researchers systematically juxtapose multiple features of cases to identify the key similarities and differences relevant to their research goals. Close comparison is essential to many of the specific methods of descriptive and causal analysis pursued in the field.

  4. Case-oriented analysis in which researchers develop expertise in one or more countries, areas, or regions in order to solve particular theoretical or empirical problems.  Such expertise may be achieved through archival research, in-depth historical reading, and/or field and ethnographic research.

The Departments of Political Science and Sociology feature an internationally-renowned group of faculty who work in this field.  These faculty offer a large range of classes that provide students with expertise across each of these types of analysis.


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