Democracy in Theory and Practice

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Course Description

This course is an introduction to the study of politics, political science, and political theory that focuses on a definitive characteristic of modern political life: democracy. The idea of democracy is ubiquitous, but as we will quickly see, the meaning of democracy is deeply contested. People talk about democracy everywhere these days, but they often either don’t mean anything specific when they invoke this term, or they disagree deeply about its mean- ing. This course will introduce students to a wide range of ideas about the meaning of democracy, and a wide range of views about the state of democracy in the world today. It will move from the ancient Greek origins of democracy in Western theory and practice to contemporary theories and practices of democracy in global contexts. A single semester introductory course cannot possibly cover the broad topic of “democracy” in comprehensive detail. In this course, however, students will develop a broader and deeper appreciation for this central concept in the study of politics as well as a set of critical skills useful in working 1through complex problems more generally.