Jessica Teets

Associate Professor of Political Science

 work(802) 443-5528
 Tuesday 1:00 - 2:00, Thursday 1:00 & 3:00 and by appointment
 Voter Hall 107

Jessica C. Teets is an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at Middlebury College, and Associate Editor of the Journal of Chinese Political Science.  Her research focuses on governance and policy diffusion in authoritarian regimes, specifically the role of civil society.  She is the author of Civil Society Under Authoritarianism: The China Model (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and editor (with William Hurst) of Local Governance Innovation in China: Experimentation, Diffusion, and Defiance (Routledge Contemporary China Series, 2014).  Dr. Teets was recently selected to participate in the Public Intellectuals Program created by the National Committee on United States-China Relations (NCUSCR), and is currently researching policy experimentation by local governments in China.



Course List: 

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

FYSE 1460 - How Ideas Change the World      

How Ideas Change the World
How can citizens put their ideas into action and achieve social change? For example, how did citizens in the United States prompt politicians to pass a health care law, or protestors in Tunisia force a transition to democracy? In this seminar we will study why policymakers respond to new policy ideas from citizens, intellectuals, and social movements. To answer these questions, we will examine case studies from around the world—including Iran, China, and the United States—involving questions of environmental policy, enfranchisement, and social welfare. 3 hrs. sem. CMP CW SOC

Fall 2015

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IGST 0704 - EAS Senior Thesis      

East Asian Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Winter 2016, Winter 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020

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IPEC 0500 - Independent Project      

Independent Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020

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

Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

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PSCI 0103 - Intro to Comparative Politics      

Introduction to Comparative Politics
This course offers an introduction to the comparative study of political systems and to the logic of comparative inquiry. How are different political systems created and organized? How and why do they change? Why are some democratic and others authoritarian? Why are some rich and others poor? Other topics covered in this course include nationalism and political ideologies, forms of representation, the relationship between state institutions and civil society, and globalization. The goal in this course is to use comparative methods to analyze questions of state institutions -- how they arise, change, and generate different economic, social, and political outcomes. 3 hrs. lect. disc. (Comparative Politics)/ CMP SOC

Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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PSCI 0221 - Contemporary Chinese Politics      

Contemporary Chinese Politics
This introductory course provides students with a background in how the party-state political system functions, and then investigates the major political issues in China today. We will focus first on economic reform issues, such as income inequality, the floating population, and changes in the socialist welfare model, and then on political reform issues, such as the liberalization of news media, NGO and civil society activity, protest and social movements, environmental protection, and legal reform. China is a quickly changing country, so students will focus on analyzing current events but also have an opportunity to explore a topic of interest in more detail. 3 hrs. lect./disc. Comparative Politics AAL NOA SOC

Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019

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PSCI 0286 - Authoritarian Politics      

Authoritarian Politics
The purpose of this course is to examine the characteristics and dynamics of non-democratic regimes. First, we will define autocracy and consider different forms of authoritarianism and how their leaders come into power. Next, we will investigate why some authoritarian regimes are able to sustain their rule while others collapse. Finally, we will explore how citizens of these regimes bolster, comply with, or revolt against their governments. Throughout the course, adopting a comparative standpoint, we will draw on various country cases. (Comparative Politics)/ CMP CW SOC

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

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PSCI 0330 - Comp Development Strategies      

Comparative Development Strategies
In this course we will explore the topic of development by first analyzing different understandings ranging from improvements in human welfare to economic growth, and then asking why some countries have developed more rapidly than others? Additionally, students will explore the role that governments play in development, such as corruption, patronage, and industrial policy. How can governments help or hinder development prospects? We will address these broad questions by comparatively analyzing the development experiences of Asian, Latin American, and African countries. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Comparative Politics)/ CMP SOC

Fall 2016, Spring 2019

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PSCI 0426 / INTD 0426 - Critical Frames Social Change      

Health, Food, and Poverty: Critical Frameworks for Social Change
Concerns around food, health, and poverty often intersect around the world, and pose shared challenges for countries in how to address them. What frameworks might maximize social impact in addressing such complicated global concerns? In this capstone course for students interested in privilege and poverty, global health, and food studies, we will critically examine a variety of frameworks for social impact, including solidarity, responsibility, development, aid, and entrepreneurship. Our examination of these frameworks will necessarily involve critical comparisons among the countries in which they have been employed. We will identify goals, strategies, and assumptions within each framework, as well as our role in social transformation in conjunction with other actors. Students will engage in interdisciplinary theoretical analysis and employ one or more frameworks to develop a proposal for a project on social change. (By approval only.) 3 hrs. Sem (Comparative Politics)/ CMP SOC

Spring 2018

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PSCI 0449 - Asian Regional Security      

Asian Regional Security
In recognition of the growing economic and military powers in Asia, the United States and other states made a “pivot” to Asia. The purpose of this course is to analyze the rise of first Japan and then China to global influence, and to examine the implications for the region and the global political and economic order. Although this seminar focuses on international politics in this region, we also examine interactions with domestic politics in these states. 3 hrs. sem. (International Relations and Foreign Policy)/ AAL NOA SOC

Spring 2016, Spring 2017

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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 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

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PSCI 0700 - Honors Thesis      

Honors Thesis
(Approval required)

Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

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SUMR 1006 - Trade/Diplomacy/Dev. in China      

Trade, Diplomacy and Development in China
In this off-campus course we will conduct academic research to explore the topics of trade, diplomacy, and development in China. In the spring, students will work with the professors to develop projects before the program, including designing appropriate research methodology such as interviews, statistical analysis, and other methodologies. Next, in June, we will travel to China where top scholars will workshop our research ideas, and then travel to two research sites in teams consisting of a professor and a team of MIIS and Middlebury students. At each site, the team will conduct fieldwork using the methodologies developed on campus. Our hope is that students will select an area of interest that will become the focus of a final project continued into the next year as a senior thesis, masters thesis, or independent study. All publications from this fieldwork will list student names as either coauthors or research assistants. Students will be expected to adhere to all safety and health policies, and to engage in culturally sensitive practices. Some familiarity with Chinese political economy and language would be helpful, but we will have MIIS interpreters accompanying each team to help those without the necessary language skills.
In addition to the application form, interested students should also email the following information to olewis@<a href="http://<a href="">"> an unofficial transcript; a short statement that includes major, minor(s), year abroad experiences (past or planned); and a two-page single-spaced essay (500 words) explaining why you would like to take the course, your goals for the experience, and the particular strengths, interests, and experiences you would bring to the course. Please submit the application materials to Professor Lewis ( For additional information, please contact Professor Lewis (, or Professor Liang ( Application Deadline: February 26th.

Dates: June 7, 2016 – July 5, 2016
June 7-14 Beijing Orientation
June 14-July 5 Field Site (Beijing or Kunming)

Program Costs: $6,000 plus travel and personal expenses AAL Summer Study SOC

Summer Study 2016

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Curriculum Vitae PDF icon2018 CV_Teets.pdf

Selected Publications

Teets, Jessica and William Hurst, eds. Local Governance Innovation in China: Experimentation, Diffusion, and Defiance. Routledge Contemporary China Series. October 2014.

Teets, Jessica. Civil Society under Authoritarianism: the China Model. Cambridge University Press. May 2014.

Teets, Jessica. “The Emergence of Consultative Authoritarianism in China: Contending Models of Civil Society Management in Yunnan and Beijing.” Forthcoming Journal of Contemporary China 24. January 2015.

Fitzgerald, Jennifer, David Leblang, and Jessica C. Teets. "Defying the Law of Gravity: The Political Economy of International Migration." World Politics 66, no. 03 (2014): 406-445.

Teets, Jessica. “Let Many Civil Societies Bloom: Regional Ideational Variation in China.” The China Quarterly. January 2013.