A central tenet of political science is that once a country reaches a certain level of political and economic development, democracy will endure indefinitely. The contemporary moment calls on us to revisit this assumption. This course explores the causes and consequences of democratic erosion through the lens of comparative politics. We ask three central questions to inform our investigation: 1) What is democracy and its alternatives? 2) How do we identify democratic breakdown? and 3) What are strategies to counteract backsliding when it occurs? Importantly, this course is not intended as a partisan critique of any particular American politician or political party. Rather, it is designed to provide an opportunity to engage, critically and carefully, with claims about the state of democracy in the US and elsewhere; to evaluate whether those claims are valid; and, if they are, to consider strategies for mitigating the risk of democratic erosion here and abroad. Readings draw from academic scholarship, media commentary, and current events as they unfold. We will address both empirical and normative dimensions of the issues, as well as learn about examples of democratic erosion around the world from early 20th century until today. As a collaborative class taught at dozens of other colleges, the course enables you to engage in debates about democratic erosion with students throughout the US and around the world.
Format: seminar; As a hybrid course, the class will feature both in-person and online components. I will post 1-2 short lectures on GLOW to accompany assigned readings/media for the week. Our scheduled course time will be a mix of discussions, interactive learning exercises, and presentations. At least one class per week will be held in-person; whether the other class will be online or in-person will depend on a number of factors, including the distribution of students taking the course on campus or remotely.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Active Class Participation, 3 Short Response Papers, Country Case Study (15-20 pages, written incrementally throughout semester) and Presentation.
Prior coursework in political science or permission of instructor.
Political Science Majors, Global Studies Concentrators
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PSCI Comparative Politics Courses