Communication and Culture | Communication and Social Conflict
C304 | 2983 | Robert Ivie

CMCL-C 304: Communication and Social Conflict
(Topic:  Democratic Dissent and the War on Terrorism)
Class Number: 2983

MW 2:30P-3:45 P,  TE F260

(Fulfills COAS A&H Distribution Requirement)

(A portion of this course is reserved for majors)

Professor:  Robert Ivie
Office: Mottier 203
Office Hours:  MW 4:00P – 5:00P and by appointment
Phone: 5-5467


This course examines the role of dissent in a healthy democracy and
the damaging constraints placed on it during a period of national
crisis such as America’s ongoing war on terrorism.

Democratic dissent in a period of war or crisis is as critical to a
nation’s political welfare as it is alarming to those in power and
to the purveyors of prevailing opinion.  This is especially the case
when a nation as powerful as the U.S. denigrates and otherwise
stifles anti-war dissent as unpatriotic and disloyal.  Fighting wars
in the name of democracy is unmatched by a willingness to practice
it in times of crisis.  The lesson Americans find difficult to
master is that vigorous dissent and debate are especially critical
in times of national crisis in order to keep ambitious governments
honest and to make misguided policies accountable to informed public
opinion.  Without open debate, governments tend to exaggerate the
danger to the nation, target unpopular groups for vilification and
repression, enact preexisting political agendas under the cover of
national security, and generally spawn a culture of secrecy and
suppression that fosters poor decision making and regrettable
consequences.  Thus, it is especially important to understand what
is at stake when democratic dissent is curbed and to explore how the
agonistic edge of vigorous dissent can be sharpened to address more
effectively the present crisis of terrorism under prevailing
conditions of division, diversity, and globalization.

In addition to reading and writing critiques of approximately three
books on the topics of dissent, democracy, and the war on terrorism,
students will write a term paper on democratic dissent and make an
oral presentation to the class based on that paper.  Regular
attendance is expected and discussion encouraged.