Making Democracy Work

POLS-Y 212 — Fall 2020 — Themester

Course Description

What does it mean to be an American? What does it mean to be an American citizen? These questions are at the heart of current political debates about racism, civil rights, sexism, LGBT rights, immigration, and economic justice. And they have been continuously debated throughout the course of U.S. political history. This class will trace and analyze the many ways that these questions have been posed and answered since 1776, and it will do so through a focus on alternative interpretations of the Declaration of Independence, which has sometimes been called the “birth certificate of American democracy.”

This semester we will begin with the Declaration itself, move backwards in time to discuss the 1619 Project and the foundational importance of slavery, and then move forward, with an emphasis on the contestation of racism. We will discuss abolitionism and secessionism, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights movements of the 1960’s, the role of race in post-1968 U.S. politics, and current controversies and protests of police brutality, incarceration, and what Michelle Alexander has called “the new Jim Crow.”

Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Isaac 



Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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