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Ryan Kennedy


Assistant Professor

Department of Political Science


Founding Director

Center for International and   Comparative Studies (CICS)


University of Houston

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Ryan Kennedy is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston and founding director of the Center for International and Comparative Studies.  He is also a research associate at the Hobby Center for Public Policy and a contributing analyst for Oxford Analytica.  Kennedy’s work has spanned a number of areas in comparative politics, primarily dealing with stability and change in political institutions.  His research has been published in the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, International Studies Quarterly, and European Union Politics among others. For more information, see his bio and curriculum vitae.


Kennedy’s main research areas include:

(For more details see curriculum vitae, publications, and working papers)


·         Democratization, Authoritarian Institutions, and State Failure – Includes analyses of the factors that contribute to the stability/instability of authoritarian regimes, issues affecting the outcome of regime transitions and the probability of democratization, prediction of state failure (civil war and regime collapse), and the impact of various authoritarian institutions on the survival of leaders.

·         East European Politics – Includes analyses of economic reform, political reform, and foreign policy in Eastern European countries (including the former Soviet Union and Turkey).  This research also includes analyses of “frozen conflicts” in the former Soviet Union and developments in Turkish foreign policy.

·         Oil Politics – Looks at how oil development affects politics and society in oil exporting states.  In particular, this research has challenged common perceptions of the causes of civil conflicts, institutional weakness, and resource nationalism in petro-states.

·         Diffusion of Institutions – Challenges the primacy of domestic explanations of democracy on the stat-level, and provides individual-level theory and data to support a reference society explanation of pro-democracy attitudes.

·         Research Methods – Utilizes advanced statistical models and computer simulations for improving our understanding of comparative politics and public policy.


Kennedy teaches courses at the University of Houston dealing with:

(For more details see the teaching)


·         International Energy Politics (Undergraduate) – Focuses on the history and future of energy development and its effect on domestic politics and international relations. [Sample Syllabus]

·         Political Terrorism (Undergraduate) – Deals with the history of terrorism, theories of terrorist violence, and policy responses to terrorist acts. [Sample Syllabus]

·         Statistics for Political Scientists (Undergraduate) – Teaches students the use of basic statistics for political analysis, and introduces students to the process of carrying out quantitative political science research. [Sample Syllabus]

·         Democratization (Graduate) – Supplies an overview of classic and contemporary theories on the causes and consequences of transitions to democracy. [Sample Syllabus]



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University of Houston, Department of Political Science