Professor Givel's areas of research specialization include: Comparative politics and public policy, Himalayan area politics and policy studies, and racial justice studies. His areas of teaching specialization include, Himalayan and Bhutanese area studies, well-being policy, global urban politics, far right movements and democracy, and global social movements.
Professor Givel, in recent years, has published several scholarly articles related to Bhutanese culture and policy. This includes articles illustrating the connection between Mahayana Buddhism and Gross National Happiness, the policy history and impacts of Gross National Happiness, and a survey and analysis of the unwritten constitution of early Bhutan.
Regarding comparative public policy and politics theory, Lhawang Ugyel, Michael Givel, and Dendup Chophel, in their ground breaking 2023 peer-reviewed article "Punctuating "Happiness": Punctuated equilibrium theory and the agenda-setting of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) policy in Bhutan,"
published in Review of Policy Research examine and demonstrate how a crucial four-prong test should be applied when Gross National Happiness in Bhutan was first codified in the modern 2008 Constitution of Bhutan. They conclude policy changes may be small, large, or in between, but that does not necessarily mean they are punctuated. And just because there is an uptick in media communications on a policy change does not necessarily mean punctuation has happened either. As this article shows, a more robust and sound way to determine a punctuation is triangulating possible upticks in media communications with an assessment of the exact nature of the policy change as determined by examining laws, constitutional provisions, etc. In this newly published article, a way forward from the methodological conundrum that has existed in punctuated equilibrium theory is first determining the exact amount of policy changes that indicate policy punctuation; second, the question of scale, policy significance, and impact; third, determining the period required to characterize policy change; and fourth, providing a robust and triangulated means of measuring punctuation.