POL 353 Democracy and Democratization

This course examines the possible institutional constructions of democracy and considers which institutions are “better” based on a country’s goals and realities. What institutions are necessary to be considered a full and functioning democracy? Once we understand the various institutions and their effects on democracy’s success, we will consider the process of democratization, studying what factors can influence and impede a country’s path to democracy. How and why do some authoritarian regimes persist? Additionally, we consider if democracy is, in fact, the best system of governance that we hold in such high esteem. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? We also study democratic declines and the factors that lead to dismantling established democratic institutions. Case studies from various points in history and locations around the world will be incorporated throughout. Specifically, we consider the post-WW2 era, the global south, the “third wave,” the Arab Spring, and more recent populist movements in the US and elsewhere. Lastly, we consider the international relations implications for the successes and failures of democracy. How does democracy affect other states? What can the international community do to foster democracy? Along with discussing these many themes, we will utilize comparative methods and conceptual tools to understand democracy and the process of democratization.