Modern democracies like the U.S. are undergoing severe challenges from within and elsewhere. Internally, many of their citizens are newly skeptical of democracy, believing for example that elections are rigged. Outside, they face new competition from authoritarian systems such as China’s government, which show no signs of converging towards democracy, and offer a possible alternative system of rule. Finally, democracies also have to engage with new policy challenges, such as racial justice and climate change. In this course, we will draw upon the collective wisdom of faculty at Johns Hopkins’ new SNF Agora Institute, to understand better the political challenges that democracy faces, and the policy challenges that it has to respond to. We will put modern democratic challenges in their appropriate historical context. Has America really been a democracy in the past? We will ask about the social and political conditions under which democracy does well, and under which it fails. Finally, we will look at the new agenda of questions that democracy faces, and the means that it can draw on to confront them.
Please visit the Office of the Registrar for more information about this course.