Impediments to the Growth of Democracy in the Middle East (APA4168.02)

Mansour Farhang & John Limbert

This course covers the domestic and international challenges facing the struggle for democracy in Middle Eastern countries, with particular emphasis on Iran. It will focus on the historical and sociocultural underpinning of the democratic concept and examine the causes of democratic success and failure.

The struggle for democracy in Iran began in the early 20th century, but today the country is ruled by totalitarian autocrats. Why has this long struggle for democracy failed?

In Egypt, a peaceful movement compelled President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a dictator, to resign in 2011. A year later Mohamad Morsi, a fundamentalist Muslim, was elected as the new president. In June 2012, he was deposed in a military coup following massive protests calling for his resignation. What caused these changes?

Compromise is the key concept in any functioning democracy. Yet, most pro-democracy groups in the region have failed to appreciate the importance of compromise in pursuit of their goals. In these societies traditional beliefs and values have created a political culture that shapes perceptions and behavior of political activists. As a result, absolutist ideologues promising utopia and religious fundamentalists promising heaven have much in common, including a rejection of democratic compromise. Both groups leave no room for the practical reason and prudence essential to a functioning civil society. It is one thing to support the idea of democracy. It is quite another to act democratically.

Module dates: September 30, October 3, 7, 10, 14, & 17th


Learning Outcomes:
Research skills
Critical Analysis of a Text
Principles of Democracy
Ideological concepts


Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Please email Susan Sgorbati (sgorbati@bennington.edu) to register for the class.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 1
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (2nd module block)
Maximum Enrollment: 25
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 2nd Module Block , 4000 , Advancement of Public Action , All courses , Fully In-Person , One Credit , SCT , Updates
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