Course code:



M - Intermediate

Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Democracy is a word you hear constantly in contemporary political discourse.

Most people seem to think it’s a good thing, but they might not always agree on what the “it” is. Perhaps we should take a moment to unpack the idea of democratic governance in our world.

What do we mean when we call something a democracy? Why do we naturally assume that democracy is a good thing? Is it? Should we promote it? How is democratic governance conceptualized across various societies and publics, today and in the past? How are these various models of democracy encoded with certain assumptions about the relationship of the individual subject to the world around them? What does the discourse of the democratic mean in contemporary society? This seminar will cover all of these questions and more.

We start with some basic definitional questions and from there springboard into a host of challenging topics pertaining to how governance is conceptualized. We will cover theoretical conceptions of governance and power, empirical observations of the functioning of democratic forms, and grounded questions of practice when applied to contemporary problems. Along the way we will draw on concrete examples from the international, national, local, and (not surprisingly) the COA level. Evaluation will be based on engagement with class discussion, short-form response papers, literature reviews, and various student-led presentations. Students with a wide variety of interests in governance, politics, policy, economy, theory, and other forms of social analysis are encouraged to enroll.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.