version of the
DPI-413 syllabus for Spring 2010 is now available for downloading.
28 November 2009
Aims and objectives:
This course covers the basic principles, theories, conceptual
tools, and comparative methods useful for understanding the challenges
of democracy. State building in Afghanistan and Iraq has
highlighted the critical importance of this issue in the
U.S. policy agenda, although this is far from a new concern. Since the
early 1990s, the international community has focused attention on the
challenges of encouraging and facilitating democratization, with the
understanding that an effective democratic state and good governance
encourages and complements the activities of the private and non-profit
sectors, allowing markets to flourish and people to live healthier,
happier lives. Democratization aims to develop institutions and
processes that are more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens,
including the poor. Moreover, democratic governance is believed to promote
international peace and cooperation, reducing the causes of conflict and
violence between and within states.
community has used a triple strategy to promote this process. Aid has
been devoted to strengthening independent judiciaries and effective
legislatures designed to curb and counterbalance executive powers.
Democratic assistance has flowed into attempts to foster and expand
civic society by nurturing grassroots organizations, advocacy NGOs, and
the news media. But among all the issues, perhaps the most resources
have been invested in attempts to establish competitive, free and fair
The primary challenge
concerns establishing, deepening, and strengthening the quality of
democracy. Despite the substantial expansion of ‘third-wave’
democracies, military-backed dictatorships, authoritarian regimes,
elitist oligarchies, and absolute monarchies persist, particularly in
much of the Middle East and North Africa. Other transitional
semi-democracies like Zimbabwe and Pakistan have occasionally stalled or
reverted back to authoritarianism. And there has been only fragile,
partial or unstable consolidation of democracy in Argentina, Venezuela,
and Russia. Major problems of transition confront attempts at building
stable nation-states, let along free and fair elections, in Afghanistan
and Iraq. The process of democratization therefore remains deeply flawed
in many countries.
To understand these issues, Part I
provides an overview and
develops analytical tools suitable for comparative research into
considers the political institutions most conducive to strengthening
democratization; Part III focuses upon political culture and social capital.
The conclusion draws together the core lessons of good governance for
the policy community.