POLSCI 389 - Topics in Contemporary Political Science
Section: 002 Is Democracy Dying?
Term: WN 2019
Subject: Political Science (POLSCI)
Department: LSA Political Science
Credits:
3
Requirements & Distribution:
SS
Waitlist Capacity:
99
Advisory Prerequisites:
One course in Political Science.
Repeatability:
May be repeated for a maximum of 10 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

This undergraduate seminar examines the outlook for the survival of democracy. During the past decade, many marginally democratic countries such as Russia and Poland have become increasingly authoritarian; China has become increasingly repressive; and authoritarian, xenophobic populist movements have grown strong enough to threaten democracy in such rich, established democracies as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. How worried should we be about the outlook for democracy?

The good news is that ever since representative democracy first emerged, it has been spreading, propelled by the forces of modernization. The pattern has been one of advances followed by setbacks, but the net result has been an increasing number of democracies, from a bare handful in the nineteenth century to about 90 today. The bad news is that the world is currently experiencing the most severe democratic setback since the rise of fascism in the 1930s and it seems likely that democracy will continue to retreat unless rich countries find ways to reduce inequality and manage the rise of artificial intelligence. Pessimists fear the game is already over, that democratic dominance has ended for good. Optimists argue that democracies have faced great challenges in the past but have risen to those challenges and renewed themselves. There is no reason they can't do so again--if they carry out crucial political changes. The time, resources, and opportunity to turn things around are there; the only things missing are political will and leadership. The pessimists offer a bleaker view. The collective economic might of authoritarian powers now outweighs that of advanced liberal democracies, they point out, and it is probable that the future will be a renewed struggle for global ideological supremacy.

This course is in the Comparative Politics subfield.

Course Requirements:

Each participant will write three short papers, each of which counts for 25 percent of the final grade. Contributions to the seminar discussions will also count for 25 percent of the final grade. These papers should be a critical account of the material assigned for a given day, adding some insight of your own, linking it with ideas from other readings if possible. You will present your findings in the meeting for which the reading is assigned, accompanied by a power point presenting key points. Your paper should be e-mailed to me at rfi@umich.edu by 9 pm on the evening before the class in which they will be discussed.

Intended Audience:

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Class Format:

Recitation meets twice a week for an hour and a half each time

POLSCI 389 - Topics in Contemporary Political Science
Schedule Listing
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TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (REC)
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28407
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TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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22788
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MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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28458
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MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
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28650
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TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
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26524
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M 6:00PM - 9:00PM
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30198
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TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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30200
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3
 
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Th 4:00PM - 5:00PM
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30201
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Th 5:00PM - 6:00PM
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30202
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F 9:00AM - 10:00AM
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