Democracy and Crisis: Freedom, Security and Emergency Politics
This course is no longer being offered.
Wiretapping. Enhanced, invasive airport security screening. Evacuations. Financial bailouts. In these and many other ways, our regular ways of democratic life are disrupted when a crisis looms. But what happens to individual freedom and the accountability of government to its citizens when the red alert siren goes off?
How can (and should) we as citizens, future policymakers, and leaders think about and shape our politics and public debate to ensure our best chance of staying both free and safe?
This question will organize our studies and discussions in the class. Students will become familiar with basic democratic values and dilemmas drawn from political theory and constitutional law, and will explore historical and current cases (possibilities include the post 9/11 period, Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 financial crisis). The class will employ a dynamic mix of group discussions, class presentations, viewings of documentary, news, and drama clips, research and reflective writing challenges, a mini college-paper, and a mock conference project.
Students will achieve a concrete understanding of the stakes involved when liberal democratic political institutions and rights protections are challenged by crises, magnifying the ever-present need for strong, decisive leadership to manage potentially destabilizing events. They will also develop and enhance their reading, research, and critical thinking skills. In particular, students completing the course will leave with a strengthened set of skills for making sense of current affairs and global issues, forming and defending arguments, and planning and writing a successful college paper.
The class will support and stimulate further study in the fields of democratic theory and constitutional law, and more generally in subject areas such as government/political science, public service, negotiation, and public speaking, and also aims to encourage interest in civic participation among students.