Spring quarter, 2007
Professor Matthew Søberg Shugart
Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
University of California, San Diego
and Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.
Mondays 12:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Note: There may be changes to this syllabus as the quarter progresses, and to accommodate specific interests of the students who enroll. Changes will be reflected on the website, and anything major will also be announced at the IED discussion conference on the IR/PS First Class server.
Recent decades have witnessed a world-wide expansion of the number of democracies, transforming political systems in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East. Yet the growth of democracy is by no means a universal trend or a one-way process. While it is official US foreign policy to promote the spread of democracy, we still do not know precisely what conditions allow democracy to flourish in some societies, decay or collapse in others, and never even get started in yet others. This course will explore the worldwide trends in democratization from a cross-regional perspective, focusing on recent history and current developments. It will ask to what extent democracy can be actively promoted and the role of institutional “engineering” in assisting the emergence and “consolidation” of new democratic regimes and the improvement of established democracies.
The aim of the course is policy analysis and prescription. That is, the course aims to broaden and sharpen students’ skills in the following areas: Identifying problems of a society, such as the conflicts that might at once make democracy the most feasible solution yet also the one least likely to endure; Proposing solutions to surmount the problems inhibiting democratic development, including both “ideal” solutions and practical proposals that stand a chance of being accepted by the relevant actors; Understanding both the promise and the limits of institutional engineering and democracy promotion as policy objectives.
The perspective of the course is based on “new institutionalism” (even though it is not really all that new; it was just forgotten by political science for about two centuries after Madison, and is still largely in need of rediscovery by the American policy and journalistic communities). New institutionalism is an alternative to perspectives based on factors like economic development or cultural modernization, although that is not to say that these other factors are either not relevant or will not be covered in this course. But quarters are short, and so we can only scratch the surface of even what new institutionalism has to offer for democracy promotion, let alone the numerous contending perspectives that are argued, often with ridiculous vociferousness, within the halls of the academy.
The course will be broadly comparative, incorporating evidence from a wide range of cases, including case studies to be developed by students themselves in conjunction with writing and presentation requirements. We will use examples from not only the “Pacific” as that region is understood at IR/PS, but also the Balkans, the XSSR, Africa, the Middle East, and the exciting new developments in citizen engagement in electoral reform in Canada and some West European countries.