Research Initiatives

The Department of Political Science at Michigan State University has long been a leader in the discipline. Founded in 1949, the Department was a pioneering center of activity during the behavioral revolution that swept the social sciences in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, it continues to serve as a role model in promoting high-caliber research and teaching. MSU’s political scientists are highly-productive and widely recognized scholars who publish on a regular basis in top-ranked professional journals and prestigious university presses; they are actively engaged in a range of externally-funded research projects; and they hold prominent leadership positions in major professional organizations.

Social Science Data Analytics initiative

The Social Science Data Analytics (SSDA) initiative is a college-level program that facilitates research and training harnessing computational advances to better understand dynamic multi-scale social problems. SSDA serves as a forum to connect researchers interested in applying Bayesian data analysis, causal inference, machine learning, dynamic interactive visualization or other computationally-intensive tools to social science relevant Big Data. The initiatives goal is to highlight and build on MSU’s strengths in analytics, as well as inspire innovations across the social sciences. More information can be found at


Workshop on Conflict (WoC)

Workshop on Conflict (WoC) provides an opportunity for faculty and graduate students at Michigan State University to exchange ideas about academic research on global conflict and cooperation.  Both MSU faculty and graduate students are invited to present their works-in-progress at the workshop.  Several times a year, faculty from other universitites also visit the Department of Political Science to prsent their research.  The workshop aims to meet twice monthly.

To find out more information about the WoC schedule or to request a date to present your work, please contact Professor Jakana Thomas or Professor Benjamin Appel.

Visit WoC Site


Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in more than 35 countries in Africa. Through our findings, ordinary citizens can have a voice in policy-making processes that affect their lives.

We are the world’s leading research project on issues that affect ordinary African men and women. We collect and publish high-quality, reliable statistical data on Africa which is freely available to the public.

We are proud of what we have achieved so far and our goal is to have Afrobarometer surveys in all African countries.

Visit Afrobarometer Site

Global Urban Studies

Cities must deal with the aftermath both psychological and infrastructural, and must implement and often pay for policies to mitigate such situations in the future either through better disaster planning, more effective public safety, increased service provision, and through cooperative arrangements between public, private and nonprofit entities.

Visit Global Urban Studies Site

Environmental Science & Public Policy

ESPP was established in 2003 in order to:

  • Build graduate education programs that are innovative, interdisciplinary and campus wide;
  • Facilitate interdisciplinary environmental research at MSU and, in particular, link MSU research with national and global research priorities; and
  • Make MSU’s areas of excellence better connected with and more visible in national and global efforts.
Visit ESPP Site

LeFrak Forum

Founded in 1989 in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy and the LeFrak Forum are centers for research and debate on the theory and practice of modern democracy.



The Institute for Public Policy and Social Research applies research to pressing public policy issues and builds problem-solving relationships between the academic and policymaker communities.