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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. The current pandemic, related economic distress, and social protests have only sharpened the precarious state of U.S. democracy. 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, primarily through active, project-based group research activities, guided by political theory and empirical research in the social sciences.
This class is extensively hybrid by design; it is largely remote with some in-person sessions. Remote sessions include substantial collaboration with a similarly structured first-year course being taught by a sociologist at the University of North Carolina. Williams and UNC students will work together in small groups and will present their project findings to both classes.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
active class participation, three 4-page essays, group assignments, and class presentation
EXPE Experiential Education Courses
PSCI American Politics Courses