Skip to main content

Teaching


While at Princeton, Bella taught a variety of courses, typically either in her methodological specialty, formal and quantitative analysis, or in her area specialty, international relations with a focus on Asian politics. Analytical depth and critical appraisal of theories through data are the cornerstones of her teaching philosophy. She believes in encouraging students to build rich characterizations of observed phenomena that go beyond facile explanations and that rely on evidence rather than purely logic or persuasion, both of which can mislead and bias.

Social science is a unique discipline because explanations of human behavior can seem deceptively obvious, yet be very difficult to prove. For every apparently plausible hypothesis ("lowering taxes will boost national welfare by injecting money directly into the economy"), there is an equal and opposite plausible hypothesis ("raising taxes will boost national welfare by redistributing wealth to create a more equal, productive society"). Ultimately, evidence in the form of data is needed to adjudicate between competing explanations. Bella seeks to apply this ethos to both her teaching and her work.

Courses Taught at Princeton

POL345: Quantitative Analysis and Politics (Preceptor)

What accounts for who votes and their choice of candidate? Would universal health insurance improve the health of the poor? Researchers and policy makers use statistics to answer these questions. However, the validity of their conclusions depends upon underlying assumptions and correct application of statistical methods. The course will introduce basic principles of statistical inference and programming skills for data analysis. The goal is to provide students with the foundation necessary to analyze data in their independent research at Princeton and to become a critical consumer of news articles and academic studies that use statistics. (Under Kosuke Imai.)

POL245: Visualizing Data (Preceptor)

Equal parts art, programming, and statistical reasoning, data visualization is critical for anyone who seeks to analyze data. Data analysis skills have become essential for those pursuing careers in policy evaluation, business consulting, and research in fields like public health, social science, or education. This course introduces students to the powerful R programming language and the basics of creating data-analysis graphics in R. We use real datasets to explore topics ranging from networks (like trade between counties) to geographical data (like the spatial distribution of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan).  (Under Kosuke Imai.)

POL 362: Chinese Politics (Preceptor)

This course provides an overview of China's political system. We begin with a brief historical overview of China's political development from 1949 to the present. The remainder of the course will examine the key challenges facing the current generation of CCP leadership, focusing on prospects for democratization and political reform. Among other topics, we will examine: factionalism and political purges; corruption; avenues for political participation; village elections; public opinion; protest movements and dissidents; cooptation of the business class; and media and internet control. (Under Rory Truex.)

Course descriptions courtesy of the Princeton University Registrar.