Popular unrest. The resurgence of authoritarian styles and practices in politics. Democratic collapse. Political tumult around the globe in recent decades has put elites, and others, on edge as young democracies have collapsed and longer standing ones appear to be stumbling. In the United States, basic stability and democratic expansion have been accompanied by increasing citizen distrust of institutions, growing social divisions, and contestation over basic citizenship rights. Acute observers have long seen the U.S. as a harbinger of the promise and peril of modern democracies. What is the fate of democracy in the U.S.? What does that portend, if anything, for other democracies, or for the general principle of popular sovereignty–the idea that the people govern themselves? We investigate these and related questions by actively consulting political theory and empirical research in the social sciences. Our investigation will include class-time collaboration with a similarly structured undergraduate course being taught by a sociologist at the University of North Carolina and may include an optional weekend study trip.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, three 5-page essays, several short additional writing assignments, and class presentation
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: first-year students
Enrollment Preference: first-year students
Distributions: Division II;
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses; PSCI American Politics Courses