Democracy in America, from the Revolution to Trump (APA2005.02)

Casey Bohlen
Democracy is in crisis – or so Americans believe.  Whether they blame voter fraud or the January 6th insurrection, over four-fifths of U.S. voters say that our democracy faces a ‘serious threat’ today.  Yet what exactly does that mean?  What institutions, practices, and values are essential to democratic life?  What forces are threatening them?  Is America even a democracy in the first place?

This course will invite students to grapple with those questions by exploring the history of democracy in America.  We will examine how political leaders and social movements have fought to expand the bounds of democratic citizenship ever since the American Revolution, and how others have fought to restrict it.  We will trace the evolution of both defenses and critiques of democratic self-governance.  We will consider how polarization and inequality strain democratic life today.  And we will reflect critically on what exactly democracy has looked like — and can look like — not only in formal politics, but also in economic and social life more broadly.


Learning Outcomes:



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (2nd seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: Advancement of Public Action , Fully In-Person , All courses , Updates
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