2018 Summer Online – Politics 333: Democracy and…
Welcome to 333: Democracy and Democratization: Week 1.
Caution: This week combines intro-to-online-learning and the first week of democracy, so it has more readings and videos than some other weeks. We’ll introduce online learning, we’ll introduce ourselves to each other, and we’ll take a first look at the intersections of business and government.
You saw the course’s main page (if you haven’t, please go back and start there). We’ll look at democracy from a range of perspectives. And you’ll have a chance to do you own inquiry into the topic of your choice. You’ll have multiple short assignments each week, and toward the end of the course you’ll write a longer paper you’ve been working on throughout the semester. We’ll discuss this.
It looks like we have a good class size – our 8 or 10 students is effective in a lot of ways. You should expect that we will have a lot of “discussion” – this means real engagement on everyone’s part, not just regurgitation. You know that we are “asynchronous” – that means we will never all be online (or at least, never have to be online) at the same time – you can be anywhere in the world and do your work at any time – so long as it is submitted by the deadlines.
If you haven’t already, please join our facebook group – I posted the link on our Blackboard > Announcements. If by law or for some other reason you are unable to have a facebook account, let’s discuss – email me using the email address I posted on our Blackboard > Announcements.
Each week we will have reading, writing, research, watching videos, and just thinking. The assignments might sometimes seem like a lot, but remember we only have a few weeks for the same three-credit course of a fall or spring semester.
Let’s begin by looking at what is online education. It continues to evolve, just as classroom teaching strategies do. I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve taken and led training courses in online education, presented at academic conferences, etc. But no one knows everything. Your ideas on improving the course are always welcome. If you have any specific problems, please contact me immediately. Use the subject line “Politics 333” in every email you send me, please.
We start with a couple of videos. Watch all of Charli Carpenter and Pia Mancini. Optional: watch at least the first seven minutes of the Clay Shirky videos – feel free to watch more, of course.
Charli Carpenter, Transnational Politics, i(I)nternational r(R)elations, and the Information Age – on teaching, scholarship, and Web 2.0 and 3.0 (2012) – (watch all eight minutes) – she focuses on the IR field, but it’s applicable to all social sciences – notice that this is from 2012 – what has changed / what has stayed the same since then?
Pia Mancini, How to Upgrade Democracy for the Internet Era (2014) – (watch all 13 min – opens in new window)
Optional: Clay Shirky, “How Social Media Can Make History” (2009) – (watch at least first seven minutes) – this is now ten years old – again, what’s still new / what’s not
Optional: Clay Shirky, “How Cognitive Surplus Will Change the World” (2010) – (watch at least first seven minutes)
Note: The idea that the Carpenter and Shirky videos are outdated is part of the point – the pace of technological change is related to the our study of political/economic change.
More on online learning itself:
APSA Teaching and Learning Conference 2014, “Short Course on MOOCs“, (J.Quirk, 20:20-24:46) – just this four and a half minutes, on massive open online courses (30,000 students, not eight students) – of course, you can watch more if you like – if you watch here, skip to 20:20
Ann Ferren Conference 2016, “Online Learning: What Students Want” panel – (1) read the Educause article, (2) see the powerpoint, (3) optional – but if you watch the first 5 minutes or so, you’ll get a decent sense of who I am and how I approach things – of course, you can watch more if you like. You probably need to turn your volume up louder for this video.
Finally, a short article from Marc Scott, “Kids Can’t Use Computers…and this is why it should worry you” (2013)
Intro to Democracy and Democratization
Ok, that’s a pretty thorough intro to online learning….let’s get started on democracy itself.
We’ll discuss some of your ideas on how technology, including but not limited to social media, drives democracy, debate, and governance.
In the second part of course, we’ll focus on some democracy and democratization background more generally. For the most part, we’ll be asking questions of the most basic sort:
What is democracy?
What is a democracy? Are there attributes that a country must have, or must not have, to be considered a democracy?
Are there limits on democracy (or should there be) – can there be too much of a good thing – should elections or free speech, for example, have limits? Why? According to whom? For what purpose(s)?
Do we assume democracy is the best for of government, or “the worst except for all others”? Why do we assume this? How can we measure whether democracy is “better”?
What are the cultural questions we should be asking about democracy? – in the United States? in the other countries?
Keep these questions in mind as you look at these we move throughout the semester.
WHAT IS, AND IS NOT, DEMOCRACY?
We focus now on some of the basic research in modern democratization studies. We look at three articles from our text, Diamond’s Democracy: A Reader (these articles are also available online from the CUA library), and a speech from Larry Diamond to university students in newly post-Saddam Iraq. We go back and look at a couple of the founding documents of the United States.
The questions here revolve, in various ways, about the basics of what constitutes a democracy, what difficulties and contradictions are involved in democracy, and why we place so much importance in it.
We also look at some more ways of measuring democracy. Last week, we introduced Freedom House’s Freedom in the World map. This week we consider some additional methods.
If you have not already, please join this course’s facebook group – see Bb announcement for details, and post an introduction about yourself.
Larry Diamond, What is Democracy?, Hilla University 2004
Schmitter and Karl, What Democracy is…and Is Not, Journal of Democracy, Summer 1991 (same as Reader chapter 1 and online at CUA library.
Diamond, Three Paradoxes of Democracy, Journal of Democracy 1990, (Reader ch 6 and online at CUA library. Ok to skim but don’t skip. Can also see with free trial to Scribd.
Sen, Democracy is a Universal Value, Journal of Democracy 1999, (Reader ch 16 and online at CUA library. Sen is a Nobel Prize economist, and is famous for arguing that – read this carefully because it is awesome: “democracies don’t have famines.” (How great is that! )
I will post an intro video on facebook (coming) and my PowerPoint notes on fb.
This week we’ll watch part the beginning of a documentary on democratization. A Whisper to a Roar: They Will Be Heard (2013) looks at five ongoing efforts at democratization: Egypt, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Ukraine, and Malaysia. With global reach but common themes, it illustrates many of the ideas in the Diamond books. It also gives us some rich background into some of the current events we are paying attention to – background to the headlines we see from Kiev, Caracas, and Cairo….
You might begin by looking at the web site: http://awhispertoaroar.com/
For this week, we’ll just watch the first 27 minutes. That gives us a good intro to each of the five cases. Caveat: the first 2:30 is a weird, anime/Game of Thrones thing – just go with it.
You can buy the DVD, or buy or rent it for online viewing from amazon, Vudu, and Google Play, and maybe elsewhere.
DISCOVER: MEASURING DEMOCRACY
Please look at two important sources for measuring democracy: the Center for Systemic Peace’s Polity IV series , and Freedom House’s annual report on Freedom in the World. Please get a solid, introductory understanding of these sources.
by Wednesday night – post an intro video or 40-100-word text about yourself, on our fb page
by Thursday night – post a news link on fb – esp. a story or source we might not have seen – with 10-40 of your own words to explain
by Friday night – your 300-400-word “essay” post at the bottom of this page, based on the essay prompts (“questions”) below
by Sunday night – comment on at least one classmate’s news post on fb (10-25 words) and comment on at least two classmates’ essay posts at the bottom of this page (approx 100 words each)
NEWS LINK – By 11:59pm EDT, Thursday, June 28 Post a news story entirely of your choosing, but in some way related to democracy and democratization, to our facebook group page. The story, and the source, can be local, national, or international. Try to get a news story that we may not have all already seen, or an unfamiliar perspective on a familiar topic, etc. Be sure to provide a short comment on the link – probably 10-40 words – that will help us understand why you posted it or your reflections on it. See our course’s main page for examples of what is and isn’t a good post
ESSAY POST – By 11:59pm EDT, Friday, June 29 The essays you post are based on the prompts at the bottom of this page. The prompts will ask you to consider a question on the reading(s) and/or video(s) of each week. Your post will be approximately 300 words, directly beneath the prompts. See our course’s main page for examples of what is and isn’t a good post
NEWS REPLY – By 11:59pm EDT, Sunday, July 1 On our facebook group page, briefly reply to at least one of your classmates’ news links. See our course’s main page for examples of what is and isn’t a good post
ESSAY REPLY – By 11:59pm EDT, Sunday, July 1 On this page, reply to at least one of your classmates’ Essay Posts. Your replies should advance the discussion, not merely re-iterate, approve, or reject your classmates’ ideas. You want to be thoughtful, insightful, etc. You can certainly take a different perspective, or ask questions, or build.
You should not merely criticize: “that’s stupid,” or “you have that entirely wrong,” or “what are you, a RedSox fan?,” or worse, is not constructive. Your comment should be at least 100 words. See our course’s main page for examples of what is and isn’t a good post
SPECIAL NOTE ON FB AND GOVT396.com:
It seems like it should go without saying, but just in case: this is academic work, not the place for screeds, ad hominem attacks, or other unpleasantness. That’s not really suitable for your personal twitter account either, but it is certainly not appropriate here. This is “classroom facebook”, not “locker-room facebook”. Open, sincere, fact-based, and analytical, and even partisan, but not mean or rude. Thanks.
Additionally: the fb group is “closed” – only my CUA students will be able to see it (and a handful of a alumni that contribute), and only I can admit people to the group. But govt396.com is the “real Internet.” It won’t generate much traffic except from members of the class, and when the class is over, I will password protect it. But during the class, it is available to anyone on the Web. This is a deliberate pedagogical choice. You are free to use your own name, or to use a pseudonym. You must, of course, let me know what your pseudonym is. Any G- or PG-rated pseudonym is ok. Additionally, when you post/reply, the site will ask for your email address. This email address will be visible by me, but not by anyone else. In the first week or two, posts will require my approval before they show up. After that, they will appear immediately. Treat this work as you would any in-class homework: smart, thoughtful, analytical, proofread – no first drafts.
Thanks, everyone. Semester moves fast – keep up, get smart, have fun. Prompts for your posts this week are below
Essay Prompts for Week of June 25
In about 300 words (350 max), discuss one or more of these questions. Post your answer in the “What do you think?” comments section below here.
1. Review your notes on “What democracy is…and is not” and “three paradoxes of democracy. ” Offer examples of ways in which the United States today bumps into the issues or difficulties described in these articles.
2. Which of the concepts from our scholarly readings are illustrated in A Whisper to a Roar? Be specific: and offer a couple of good examples.
3. What can we learn from the various indexes of democracies – Freedom in the World, Polity IV, Reporters Without Borders, and Economic Freedom? What elements from our readings or Whisper do we see at work?
4. What elements from the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution do we see reached or exceeded in the U.S. today? Or in our general expectations of democracy today? In what ways does the United States continue to fall short of its founding ideals? (Let’s omit, for now, focus on the 2016 presidential campaign – we’ll do plenty of that in a future week.)
5. What’s the one concept, issue, etc. from this week’s readings and video that was most striking to you – most surprising, most upsetting, most challenging, most illuminating, etc.? You can bring together the ideas from multiple readings etc if you like.
6. What did you learn from the online-learning videos – Carpenter, Mancini, and Shirky – what made you think about something for the first time, or in a new way?
(Yes, answer directly below, in the What do you think? box. Use your CUA email address – only I will see it. Posts will not appear immediately for the first week or two – this is the only way to keep out considerable spam.)