The following courses will be offered this fall as part of Themester 2020.
This course is an examination into the nature of an American society as an articulation of democracy. Making use of The Wire as a visual text alongside the research from various fields found in academic articles, this course seeks to challenge students in creating questions and posing questions on what makes and ought to make an American city function. The intent of class lectures, discussions, viewing, reading assignments, and writing activities are to foster within students a sense of the need for, and role of, critical thinking in addressing societal issues as the responsibility of a just democracy.
AMST 201 introduces you to class-based struggles that have shaped institutions and movements in the U.S. You will learn how to use the lens of American Studies to understand people’s lives that may be similar or different than your own. You will gain a deeper or different understanding of conflict and solidarity in the U.S. by looking at present and past intersections of class with other structures such as religion, ethnicity, and political action.
We consider topics such as early unionization, working class cultures and the artists who documented them, farm worker movements, women’s leadership, civil rights, revolution, leadership, creative life, and connections between the U.S. and global movements. Materials include first-person accounts, short stories, film, visual art, and music.
This course will compare democratic political systems to autocratic/dictatorial ones and explore the different ways in which each political system affects the lives of individuals. Course will explore how democracies are better equipped to support economic and cultural progress, and to fulfill the dreams of individual people than even dictatorships founded on messianistic ideologies. The empirical basis of the comparison will be the comparison of East European left and right wing dictatorial systems with democracies. Finally, course will explore the process of democracy building and its pitfalls.
Can the United States confront terrorism and yet maintain an open diverse society that honors the rights of the citizens? Can the police control crime and yet follow the due process? How can the police win trust of minorities and prevent victimization based on race, gender, religion and ethnic identities? The course will examine policing of not only the US but also India, the UK, Japan, The Netherlands, Finland, France, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa and several emerging democracies to understand how this paradox is being resolved around the world.
Climate change is real, and we’re not moving fast enough to stop it. To prevent the worst effects of climate change, people are talking about climate engineering: temporarily and deliberately modifying the climate. Why are people talking about this? How would it work?
Who gets a say in how it’s done? What might happen? Will there be climate winners and losers? How does science fit into the overall debate about whether and how it might be done?
This course examines the basic nature of politics, communication, and the public sphere. As a unit of analysis, we will primarily focus on U.S. Presidential discourse, past and present. This semester is a special one, given that we will be observing the 2020 general election. This will require that we read, watch, and discuss quite a bit about this and other political races. Broadly stated, our goals will be analyzing, understanding, and evaluating political messages and considering their role in the formation of a public.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” This phrase suggests fundamental connections between democracy and free expression. But what are those connections? Why do they matter? In this course we will learn about the context, interpretations, and implications of the right and practice of free speech, and we will emphasize the role that the First Amendment plays in establishing and securing democratic practice.
Social movements have not always seen changes in the law as the goal of their work. Sometimes social movements abandon efforts to change the law and simply try to transform common beliefs and values. For some movements, however, the law is an important target of action. Strategically breaking the law through civil disobedience is one established tactic. This course will compare the tactics of several movements to see how approaches to the law influences their rhetoric. Case studies may include the U.S. Civil Rights movement, environmentalism, Latin American autonomous movements, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter.
The German-speaking world has a history of democracy undermined by totalitarianism and fascism. German and Austrian societies still include far-right parties. Even Switzerland, despite its direct democracy, is currently shaped by rising far-right populism. Performance in the German-speaking world has played a crucial role resisting anti-democratic tendencies post-1945. In this class, we will focus on performances that were staged as interventions against totalitarianism and that additionally promote transcultural community-building.
Nationalism, socialism/communism, fascism are democracy’s frenemies.
They have inspired devoted activists who claim to fight for the people, to realize true democracy, and to effect real liberation. But they have also destroyed democracies, ruined hundreds of millions of lives, and wreaked havoc at home and abroad.
This course helps you understand these powerful phenomena in context. A historical look at them in relation to democracy prepares you to think what democracy was, is, could have been, and will be.
The French Revolution overthrew one monarchy and fundamentally challenged the legitimacy of many others. Crucial features of modern democratic politics—human rights, the division of Right from Left, the “Reign of Terror”—can all be traced to the revolutionary 1790s. The Revolution declared sovereignty to reside essentially in the nation, thereby opening—but never closing—the question of who belonged to the nation and why. It celebrated the will of the people, but left unclear how that will was to be determined. And then there was Napoleon. For all its enduring legacies, the Revolution’s history is most poignantly a tale of democracy’s fragility.
HIST-W 300 — When Democracies Fail
Instructor: Dr. Mark Roseman
Whereas the victory over Communism in 1989 seemed proof positive of the superior qualities and robustness of democracy, the last few years have exposed an unexpected fragility, and an unexpectedly vigorous assault on core principles of democratic rule from authoritarian rulers around the world, and from radical minorities within still functioning democracy. How is that something that seemed to self-evident and so robust should now appear so fragile. This 300-level history course explores the evolution of modern democracy from the revolutionary era to the present, looking at the challenges and critics that have periodically challenged democracy – and sometimes overthrown it altogether.
This course explores the evolution of thinking about democracy, as both a system of government and a political ideal, in international society. We will investigate the contours of historical and contemporary debates about self-government in the minds of democratic theorists, political figures, and the public at large. Among the topics examined will be the impact of the global economic recession on domestic and international institutions, the aftermath of multiple wars, revolutionary upheavals, and terrorist attacks on democratic decision-making, and the evident turn toward populism and nationalism in Western liberal democratic societies.
A healthy democracy depends on an informed and engaged electorate. This class examines how political messages impact voter information and engagement, with a goal of working toward achieving intersubjectivity (shared meaning) within a fractured media landscape. Topics include objectivity, perceptions of bias, political information selection, attitude reinforcement and challenge avoidance, media dependency, agenda setting, and fake news.
The PACE Issue Forum is a one credit, one-day experience in democratic deliberation. The course provides students with an opportunity to explore a timely and contentious public issue through multiple perspectives, while cultivating the skills of effective communication, active citizenship, and group deliberation. As part of the experience, students listen to and interact with an expert panel on the topic to spark a greater understanding of the issue and move toward solutions by developing ideas and possible actions.
How are U.S. policy decisions made? What are the skills of effective leaders? How do important public issues gain attention? In PACE-C 250, students learn to better understand the factors involved in the policy processes and to practice the key skills to bring theory to practice. Throughout the class, students will gain an understanding of the various philosophies that shape American’s political environment and a strong grasp of the individual approaches and institutional mechanisms that make them work.
PACE-C 300 — Sex, Race, and Voting Rights
Instructors: Dr. Lisa-Marie Napoli (PACE), Dr. Wendy Gamber (History), Lauren MacLean (Political Science), and Stephanie Sanders (Gender Studies)
Interview with Dr. Gamber
Why did it take a supposedly democratic nation until 1920 to grant women the
right to vote? Why did securing the voting rights of African Americans take even longer? Why does voter suppression persist? Why did successive attempts to pass an equal rights amendment fail? What is the past, present, and future of women’s leadership?
This course, a collaboration between PACE, History, Political Science, and Gender Studies, explores these questions from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. It features guest speakers from the IU campus and the Bloomington community. Joint-listed with HIST-W 300, POLS-Y 300, and GNDR-G 302, this course can be taken as any of these course numbers.
Plato is one of the most famous critics of democracy of all time, arguing that it does not ensure that those in power will have the knowledge or virtue required to govern well; the Republic ranks democracy second-worst among systems of rule (above only tyranny). We will aim to understand and evaluate Plato’s criticisms of democracy, as well as the more complex views about the role of democratic elements in government developed in Plato’s Laws and in Aristotle’s Politics.
This course focuses on how science policies are shaped by public opinion, partisan divisions, and political institutions. The course content will center on the debate over the cause, consequences, and policy responses to climate change, with lectures and readings that expose students to the evidence and theories that underlie the debate, as well as political science theories that explain policy choices as well as policy deadlock. The course will draw from and inform EAS-E 144 (Extreme Weather and Its Impact) in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, which focuses on the science of extreme weather events.
This course explores substantive public policy concerns through a mathematical lens that clarifies the systemic intricacies of a democracy. At the heart of any notion of democracy lies a recurrent and practical task of producing “societal” decisions through voting and other group choice mechanisms. However, both the historical record and current affairs clearly demonstrate that attempts to “represent” whole societies—especially large and diverse ones—is not a trivial task, sometimes resulting in conflict and/or gridlock. Math and logic can be utilized for a basic yet systematic examination of the conditions under which democratic governments can be more effective. Students will enhance their own understanding of how democracy operates and how they themselves can become more effective participants.
This course introduces students to the connections between economics and politics through the lens of capitalism and democracy. Once deemed the ideal economic and political systems, today both have been roundly criticized. Many claim that the rules of capitalism are at odds with equality, (environmental) sustainability, and especially democracy. And the tenets of democracy’s one person one vote has been questioned as the rise in the number of democratic countries world-wide appears to have plateaued or even reversed – evidence of so-called “democratic backsliding.”
Presidential Elections are always the Super Bowl of American Politics. They are entertaining, frustrating and ultimately profoundly important as they set the overall directions of policy for the nation. 2020 promises to be one of the roughest and most competitive in the modern era. President Donald Trump, the surprise winner in 2016, will be fighting for his political life amid Democrats’ efforts to impeach him and the endless swirl of controversy that has been the hallmark of the Trump presidency. We will take an in-depth look at how America will decide.
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.”
Political parties and interest groups, to many people, are like warts on the body politic. In this course you'll come to understand that parties and interest groups are actually necessary for democracy and how they shape our politics. We ask where do parties come from, and why are there only two stable ones in the U.S.? What are the differences between parties and interest groups? Along the way we learn about third parties, political action committees, "dark money," and social movements.
What does it take to be a successful democracy? Why do contemporary democracies face so many challenges? The focus of the course is on the current challenges to democracy, such as populism, illiberalism, and nativism. To understand the nature of these assaults on democratic values, we must first examine the principles and institutions of democracies around the world, as well as the conditions - economic growth, or civic culture, or foreign influence- that facilitate or hinder democratic practices. We then turn to a close analysis of the causes and the manifestations of contemporary challenges, focusing on economic grievances, migration problems, cultural backlash, and illiberal values.
This course thinks about U.S. society as a simultaneous racial and religious formation. Special attention will be given to “Whiteness” as the crux of American society and as operating as a form of religion-like belief with such ideals as democracy, freedom, citizenship, and equality before the law as its complicated, secular grammar. We will also engage artists, writers, and poets to get at alternative understandings of “America,” “religion,” and “democracy” beyond the racial imagination’s grip.
T-shirts have become one of the most common styles of casual clothing in the US, worn by all ages, genders, and social classes. This course will explore the recent history of political t-shirts: how they’re made, distributed and worn, focusing on the impact of legislation and law enforcement. Students will be introduced to a variety of research skills including textual analysis, grounded theory development, oral history, and participant observation. In-class activities will include mounting an exhibit and observing voters on election day.