Benjamin Cole

Associate Professor and Director of the Division of Social Sciences, Education, and Public Health
  • Political Science & International Relations
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(617) 521-2494

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About Me

Ben Cole joined the faculty of Simmons University in 2012 after a one-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. Before that, Ben taught for three years as Hood House Lecturer in International Affairs at the University of New Hampshire (his alma mater). Since 2011 he has also served as a Research Associate at the Center for Systemic Peace, where he collaborates with his doctoral research mentor, Dr. Monty G. Marshall, on the production of cross-national governance and conflict datasets and publication of the Global Report series.

Ben’s teaching philosophy is characterized by a passion for collaborating with students in research, learning, and advising. He enjoys leading teams of student researchers, redesigning and teaching new classes, and talking with students about life and career plans. When not working with students, Ben loves spending time working on the family farm with his wife, Shannon, two beautiful children, and his grandfather, sailing along the coast, or settling into a good book with a hot pot of coffee at hand.

What I Teach

  • POLS 390 Senior Seminar in Political Science
  • POLS 250 Democratization in Latin America
  • POLS 236 Political Novels: Contemporary Politics in Futuristic Literature
  • POLS 229 Comparative Foreign Policy
  • POLS 220 International Organizations & Law
  • POLS 217 American Public Policy
  • POLS 210M National Politics Unplugged: The Way Washington Works
  • POLS 104 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • POLS 101 Introduction to American Politics
  • POLS 350 Independent Study
  • FYS 101 College Seminar
  • MPP 504 Quantitative Analysis
  • MPP 502 Social Policy
  • MPP 501 Policy Analysis & Theory
  • LC 103 Art and Politics in the Mexican Revolution

Research/Creative Activities

Ben’s research interests include the theoretical and empirical study of democratic transition dynamics, state fragility and political instability, factionalism and the social science applications of complexity theory. His work involves the creation, maintenance, and analysis of large-n cross-national datasets related to governance, conflict, and state fragility, often in collaboration with Center for Systemic Peace researchers, combined with traditional comparative research methods. Wherever possible, this work features research and co-authorship with his students, such as a recent piece with Simmons alumna Laura Blume: Accounting for Latin American Homicide Rates in State Fragility Metrics. His doctoral research advocated a new conceptualization of democracy based on contributions from complexity theory and developed a unique cross-national measure of governance characteristics on that basis. He is co-author of the Center for Systemic Peace’s Global Report series since 2008; in addition, he has published papers on US foreign policy, comparative manned space policy and comparative healthcare policy.

Ben also maintains an active interest in political science pedagogical research. In addition to papers on the subject, from 2006-2008 Ben produced a series of political science role-playing simulations for Houghton-Mifflin Corporation (now Cengage); he reprised this effort in 2014 for Oxford University Press, writing six simulations to accompany two influential American Politics textbooks. He also reviews papers forComparative Political Studies, Global Environmental Politics, and International Area Studies Review.