Political Science | Democracy and Elections
Y490 | 14681 | Smyth
Are some democracies more “democratic” than others? You have
probably heard Churchill’s famous claim that democracy isn’t
perfect but it is the best system that we know. Have you ever
stopped to think about the failures of democracy or what “best”
means in this context? What criteria come to mind? Do you think
about government efficiency or responsiveness to citizens’ demands?
If so, which citizens? Or do you think about citizen participation
and the protection of individual rights? Give it some thought.
Understanding how democratic systems work and how we might compare
different types of democracies will be the focus of this seminar on
elections, representation, and democracy.
Students will conduct research on elections in a country of their
choice in order to think about how democracy can be undermined
through its most fundamental process: elections. Using political
science theory, evidence you collect, and your own analysis of a
single case, you will write a complete research paper in four
parts. Classes will be based on discussions organized around common
readings and each student’s own research project, so students should
show up ready to engage in informed debate. Grades will be based on
research papers, quizzes, and class participation.