Title: Martin van Buren - Description: Martin van Buren is credited by many with developing the first modern political party. This party organization elected Andrew Jackson to the Presidency and then enabled Van Buren to succeed him.

Renan Levine

Teaching Information



·      American Politics

·      Political Behavior

·      Research Methods and Design

·      Comparative and Canadian Politics

·      Public Policy


>> All current course information, including syllabi can be found on Blackboard.

Title: Scatterplot plotting Obama feeling thermometer scores by McCain feeling thermometer - Description: This scatterplot shows feelings towards Barack Obama plotted against feelings towards John McCain. These feelings were measured by the Time/SRBI survey from October 3-6, 2008 on a "feeling thermometer" scale running from 0 (hate) -100 (love). Republican voters are highlighted in red, Democratic voters are highlighted in blue. The Pearson r correlation coefficient is -0.68, as few voters hated both candidates and a relatively small number of voters liked both candidates. Consequently, we see many Democratic voters in the top-left and many Republican voters in the bottom-right.


American Politics

U.S. Government and Politics, University of Toronto. 2003-2004, 2004-2005, 2009-2010, Summer 2010.

• Large, introductory lecture (200-250 students) organized around theme of how and why America is unusual.
• Emphasized role of institutions in shaping political outcomes and how historical developments shaped those institutions.
• Extensively employed games and simulations.
• Organized visit by former Members of Congress to class.
• During election years, special emphasis is given to campaigns.


Public Policies of the United States, University of Toronto – Scarborough. Winter 2011

• Upper-level lecture course on the dynamics of policy change (and stability).
• Emphasized importance of agenda-setting
• Following Republican midterm election victory in the fall of 2010, we examined role of elections in shaping policy outcomes.
• Students learned to analyze policy trend data using data and tools at www.policyagendas.org.
• Required students to learn to write policy memos.


Urban Politics - Getting Along, Department of Political Science, Duke University, Fall 2001. 

• Seminar course emphasizing the sources of conflict and grounds for cooperation between racial and ethnic groups in American cities.
• Final paper assignment was a critique of William Julius Wilson’s book, The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics (Berkeley, 1999).
• Used role playing simulation employing Kennedy School of Government Case Study of Ohio Finance Agency


American Parties: The Future of German Politics? Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, Summer 1999. 
• Seminar on comparative party and electoral politics taught to German undergraduates in English.


Political Behavior and Political Strategy

Opinions, Choices and Voting, University of Toronto. 2004-2005

• A seminar with an interdisciplinary look at decision-making, public opinion and voting to explore group decision-making dynamics and institutional effects on decisions.
• Reviewed theories of rational choice from economics and psychology.
• Stressed conceptual applications to American institutions and how those institutions influence campaign behavior.
• Students applied critical thinking and oral presentation skills while taking turns leading class discussion.


Political Strategy and Policy Entreprenuership, University of Toronto, 2003, 2007, 2008; University of Toronto – Scarborough, Fall 2011, Fall 2012.

• Integrated literature from psychology and political science to examine methods to realize political and policy change with up to 70 students.
• To reinforce lessons from book on persuasion, students performed skits.
• Extensive use of case studies for assignments and classroom discussions.
• Students completed group project advising a celebrity on how to engage in a meaningful charity/political campaign.
• During years in which campaigns are held, there is an experiential learning component, as students are required to volunteer on political campaigns.


Research Methods and Design

Statistics for Political Science and Public Policy, University of Toronto – Scarborough, Winter 2011, Winter 2012

• A 50-person class taught in a computer classroom that emphasizes hands-on activities rather than lectures.
• Covers univariate statistics, bivariate association techniques, multivariate OLS and logistic regression.
• Course emphasizes how to choose the appropriate statistical technique, use the computer to complete an analysis and interpret the results.
• E-testing used extensively to evaluate student understanding of techniques.


Political Analysis I, University of Toronto – Scarborough, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

• A 60- person lecture class on the scientific method and research design.
• Recent publications are used to help students learn how to evaluate scientific
evidence and conclusions made by academic authors.
• Students learn to complete cross-tabulations and make professional-quality tables and charts.


Introduction to Research Methods, University of Toronto (Course Website) 2003-2004, 2005-2006, Summer 2006, 2006-2007, 2008-2009, Summer 2009 (Co-instructor).
• A required class for Political Science "Specialists" with 35-60 students per section taught in a computer classroom.
• Collaborated on development of a series of class activities and worksheets to foster active, hands-on learning and acquisition of statistical skills.
• Emphasized interpretation of statistical analyses.
• Trained students to orally present quantitative results using aesthetically compelling charts and graphs.
• Students completed original research projects, including some projects that were later presented at major conferences.


Craft of Political Research, University of Toronto, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010

• A fourth-year seminar on research design that surveyed strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative approaches commonly employed by political scientists to understand common dilemmas and identify hallmarks of good research. 
• Culminated with a research design proposal incorporating knowledge of the approaches covered during the class.
• Students completed original research sketches using methods introduced by guest speakers describing their own research.


Comparative and Canadian Politics

Politics, Corruption and Violence University of Toronto – Scarborough. Fall 2011, Fall 2012

• Large introductory lecture course examining corruption and violence, especially in less-developed countries.
• Goal is to understand differences in institutional design and performance between less-developed countries and developed countries.
• Students required to present original research into a country or region to their peers.
• Streamed lectures made available to remote students on-line.


Canadian Politics: Connecting Citizens and Governments, University of Toronto – Scarborough. Winter 2012

• Uses active learning techniques to instruct students on Canadian public opinion, vehicles of citizen participation and to assess the responsiveness of Canadian government.
• Considers Canadian opinions and political organizations in comparative perspective.
• Developed original exercises to enable students to use on-line SDA analysis tools to analyze Canadian public opinion.
• Integrated lessons on descriptive statistics, levels of measurement, cross-tabulations and t-tests into substantive analyses.


Public Policy

Public Policies of the United States, University of Toronto – Scarborough. Winter 2011 (see above)


Political Analysis for Public Policy, Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University Fall 2000, Fall 2001 and 2002-2003. 

• A required class for Public Policy majors with an average class size of 45-50 students.
• Developed original syllabus organized around theme of change; what brings about policy changes and what inhibits change.
• Emphasized communication skills, both intra-organizational (memo-writing) and inter-organizational (website design). Developed original curriculum and pedagogical material for website instruction with assistance from computer staff.
• Drew course materials from political science, policy analysis, journalistic accounts of policy-making (especially H.G. Bissinger’s Prayer for the City) and psychology.
• Extensive use of small-group activities and case studies during class time.
• Original class role-playing simulation of interest groups and local zoning politics.


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Data source for Obama-McCain Scatterplot: Time/SRBI, October 3-6, 2008 (via Roper Center)