PSCI 353
What is Democracy? Spring 2025
Division II

Class Details

This is a research course that will investigate the meaning of democracy through readings and a research paper. The readings will begin with claims that democracy consists of government by elites, that the democratic component consists of elections that amount to choosing between rival slates of elites, and that agreements among elites set the boundaries for permissible democratic decision making. To examine this claim, the readings will address two fundamental issues. First, it will consider the the terms of American foreign policy after the Cold War, how it sets these, and continuities and discontinuities between the Clinton and Bush administrations. Where did Democratic and Republican foreign policy elites agree and disagree and what happened to proposals that were outside the elite consensus? Second, the course will consider the prelude and official responses to the 2008-11 financial crisis. What policies paved the way for and resolved the crisis, how were they reached, and who participated in formulating them? In other words, to what extent and in what respects were these fundamental turning points made “democratically”? Having done preliminary reading on these two issues, students will conduct in-depth research into aspects of one of these questions and write a research paper.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 14
Expected: 14
Class#: 3696
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: One 5 page paper, 25 page research paper, presentation of paper to class, and class participation.
Prerequisites: Instructors permission.
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors or prospective majors, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and permission of instructor.
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: POEC Depth
POEC Skills
PSCI American Politics Courses
PSCI Comparative Politics Courses
PSCI International Relations Courses
PSCI Research Courses

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