POLS-Y208: Leadership, Civil Society, and Public Policy

POLS-Y208 — Spring 2023

Aurelian Craiutu
M C141 Simon Music Library Rec
Days and Times
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00 - 4:15 p.m.
Course Description

Liberal democracy is in crisis. The social media has changed the political landscape in a way that was unimaginable only 20 years ago. Our political life is highly polarized at a moment when the political center is weaker than ever, and the traditional left/right political categories cease to apply. Tribalism and sectarianism drive our political scene, marked by overheated and hyperbolic political rhetoric. Paradoxically, his is also a good time to revisit old theories and ideas about civil society and leadership. The topics of polarization and leadership will be the core issues in our class. The difficult question is how to promote good leadership in a highly complex and divided environment, marked by high polarization and ideological intransigence. We will examine polarization through a variety of perspectives that bring to light related and relevant concepts such as disagreement, free speech, civility, incivility, moderation, and radicalism.

The class combines sources from several disciplines (political science, history, philosophy, and public policy) and combines theory and practice. Throughout the course, discussion about specific individuals and issues will be used to illustrate the roles of leaders and institutions at all levels (local, state, federal) of American public and political life. By focusing on the relationship between politics and civil society, we will also try to highlight the skills of effective political and civic engagement, deliberation, advocacy, and action.

The class will use a combination of traditional lectures, guest lectures, discussions, and student presentations. The requirements include short papers and group projects in lieu of traditional exams. The midterm will ask students to act as political consultants to a federal or state representative and write a memorandum on a specific political or public policy topic relevant to our contemporary concerns. The final exam will be group projects on revising the constitution.