Mark Williams

Professor of Political Science

 Monday 2:00 - 4:00, Tuesday 3:30 - 4:30 and by appointment
 Robert A. Jones '59 House 117

Mark Williams (Ph.D Harvard) is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Latin American Studies program at Middlebury College. His research interests include international politics, U.S.-Latin American Relations, Venezuelan Foreign Policy, Comparative Latin American Political Economy, and Mexican Politics. A past President of the New England Council on Latin American Studies, he is the author of Understanding US-Latin American Relations: Theory and History (2011), and Market Reforms in Mexico: Coalitions, Institutions, and the Politics of Policy Change (2001). His articles have been published in such journals as Foreign Affairs LatinoaméricaWorld Development, Political Science Quarterly, Latin American Politics and Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, and International Journal of Politics and Ethics.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1349 - Amer Constitutional Democracy      

American Constitutional Democracy
In this seminar we will examine the principles and practices of the American political regime. Our goal is to grasp the evolving relationship between major public controversies in American politics, and the theoretical writings on liberty and equity that have influenced America’s political development. Topics and texts will include the founding debates and documents, Tocqueville’s interpretation of American democracy, Mill’s defense of liberty, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and a range of landmark Supreme Court cases that confront the enduring tension between majority rule and the protection of minority rights. 3 hrs. sem. CW NOR PHL SOC

Fall 2011

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IGST 0703 - LAS Senior Thesis      

Latin American Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

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IPEC 0500 - Independent Project      

Independent Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016

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IPEC 0700 - Intl.Pol.&Economics SR. Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016

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PSCI 0109 - International Politics      

International Politics
What causes conflict or cooperation among states? What can states and other international entities do to preserve global peace? These are among the issues addressed by the study of international politics. This course examines the forces that shape relations among states, and between states and international regimes. Key concepts include: the international system, power and the balance of power, international institutions, foreign policy, diplomacy, deterrence, war, and global economic issues. Both the fall and spring sections of this course emphasize rigorous analysis and set theoretical concepts against historical and contemporary case studies. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (International Relations and Foreign Policy)/ CMP SOC

Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

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PSCI 0239 - Future Great Power Relations      

The Future of Great Power Relations
Will America’s global preeminence endure in the 21st century? Will Russia and the European Union decline while other powers grow more influential? In this course we will explore the future global balance of power and prospects for cooperation or competition among the world’s great and aspirational powers. Topics include the rise of Brazil, China, India, and Venezuela; the changing nature of American power; the causality of global power shifts, and their implications for cooperation or competition on key policy issues: strategic positioning in the South China Sea, nuclear nonproliferation, energy security, economic integration in the Western Hemisphere, and intervention in the unstable Middle East. (PSCI 0109 or PSCI 0311) 3 hrs. sem. (International Relations and Foreign Policy) AAL CMP SOC

Spring 2016

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PSCI 0260 - Pol Economy Drug Trafficking      

The Political Economy of Drug Trafficking
This course examines the political economy of drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. How have transnational drug markets evolved, and why? What effects has narco-trafficking had on the political, economic, legal, financial, and social systems of producer, consumer, and transshipment countries? What policy responses are available to combat it? How should we weigh alternative policy options? Examination of these issues centers on source countries in Latin America's Andean region, the chief transshipment country (Mexico), and the principal consumer country (the US). Attention also is devoted to the drug trade's effects on American society and criminal justice system. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
(International Relations and Foreign Policy)/ AAL CMP CW SOC

Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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PSCI 0303 - US-Latin American Relations      

U.S.-Latin American Relations
This course examines American foreign policy toward Latin America. Grounded in international relations theory, it chronicles the expansion of U.S. power in the nineteenth century, the interwar period, the Cold War, and the current era of continental economic integration. To ensure rigorous analysis the course sets theoretical concepts against specific case studies. Topics include the Inter-American System, specific doctrines (Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt Corollary), specific policies (Good Neighbor Policy, Alliance for Progress), and milestone events in U.S.-Latin American relations, including the Cuban missile crisis, Falkland Islands War, and North American Free Trade Agreement. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
(International Relations and Foreign Policy)/ CMP SOC

Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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PSCI 0335 - Latin American Revolutions      

Latin American Revolutions
This course examines the causes, goals, and outcomes of revolutions in twentieth-century Latin America, with special reference to Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, and Nicaragua. It seeks to understand (1) why this region has experienced multiple revolutions; (2) what their political, economic, or social impact has been; (3) why revolutions produced authoritarian, socialist, dictatorial, or democratic outcomes across countries; and (4) what factors have kept revolutionaries from achieving their political, social, or economic goals. Evaluation entails rigorous application of theory to in-depth case studies. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Comparative Politics)/ AAL SOC

Spring 2013, Spring 2015

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PSCI 0430 - Pol Econ Global Lat Amer: Mex      

Political Economy of Globalization in Latin America: The Mexican Case
How does globalization affect developing countries? What general lessons might a single country's response to globalization teach? What economic, political, or social consequences arise from embracing or resisting globalization? We will examine such issues by focusing on Mexico, one of Latin America's most dynamic economies and a leading U.S. trade partner. Themes will include the politics of colonialism, revolution, authoritarianism, and democratization; economic modernization and economic/political crises; economic integration, drug trafficking, and immigration. These themes will be set against the backdrop of historic and contemporary globalization, and Mexico's encounters with "core" states in Europe, North America, and international institutions. 3 hrs. sem. (Comparative Politics)/ AAL SOC

Fall 2012

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PSCI 0500 - Independent Project      

Independent Projects
A program of independent work designed to meet the individual needs of advanced students. (Approval required)

Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016

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PSCI 0700 - Honors Thesis      

Honors Thesis
(Approval required)

Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016

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PSCI 1056 - Amer Citizenship/Face of War      

American Citizenship and the Second Face of War
In this course we will examine the domestic political impact of major American wars, from the Civil War through the war on terror. Among the underlying questions driving the course are: How has war affected the concept and content of US citizenship? Of political rights? Must a democracy permit free speech (dissent) and association in times of war? Can it do so safely? Can it afford not to? Can wars fought to protect political liberties and values sometimes actually threaten them? To address these questions the course draws on the founding documents, political history, biographies, Supreme Court cases, and videos. The format includes lectures, student discussion, and writing assignments. This course counts as elective credit towards the Political Science major. (American Politics)/ CW NOR SOC WTR

Winter 2012

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Selected Publications

"Elecciones en Estados Unidos: implicaciones para Latinoamérica," Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica, Vol. 12, No. 4 (October 2012)

“The Path of Economic Liberalism,” in Roderic Ai Camp, editor, The Oxford Handbook of Mexican Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 749-776

Understanding U.S.-Latin American Relations: Theory and History (New York: Routledge, 2011)

“The New Balancing Act: International Relations Theory and Venezuela’s Foreign Policy,” in Jonathan Eastwood and Thomas Ponniah, eds., The Revolution in Venezuela: Social and Political Change Under Chávez (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, 2011) 

"Escaping the Zero-Sum Scenario:  Technocracy versus Democracy in Latin America," Political Science Quarerly, Vol. 121, No. 1 (2006)

"Private Military Corporations:  Benefits and Costs of Outsourcing Security," with Allison Stanger, Yale Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Fall/Winter 2006)

"U.S. Policy in the Andes:  Commitments and Commitment Traps," in Russell Crandall, Guadalupe Paz, and Riordan Roett, eds., Security, Democracy, and Economic Reform in the Andes (Boulder:  Lynne Rienner, 2005)

"When Rational Policy Making Fails: Plan Colombia and the Approaching Commitment Trap," with Vinay Jawahar, International Journal of Politics and Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2003): 159-172

"Market Reforms, Technocrats, and Institutional Innovation," World Development, Vol. 30, No. 3 (March 2002)

"Traversing the Mexican Odyssey: Reflections on Political Change and the Study of Mexican Politics," Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Winter 2002)

"Learning the Limits of Power: Privatization and State-Labor Interactions in Mexico," Latin American Politics and Society, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Winter 2001)

Market Reforms in Mexico: Coalitions, Institutions, and the Politics of Policy Change (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001)

"Theory-Driven Comparative Analysis: Dead on the Gurney or Lost in the Shuffle?" Studies in Comparative International Development 35 (Fall 2000)

Research Interests

International Relations
Latin American Politics
Mexican Politics
US-Latin American Relations
Political Economy of Market Reforms

Program in International Politics & Economics

Robert A. Jones '59 House
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753