Johns Hopkins offers several democracy-themed spring courses

The courses will give students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the democratic process and bolster their civic engagement

Voter participation among Johns Hopkins undergraduate students appears to have increased significantly during the 2020 election cycle, according to data from a recent survey conducted by Hopkins Votes, a nonpartisan voter assistance and education initiative that helps coordinate cross-institutional support for students, faculty, and staff.

The survey, conducted last month, found that of more than 3,600 respondents who were eligible to cast a vote in the 2020 election, 82% were registered and had a plan to vote and 12% had already voted. These numbers—compared to the 55.8% of undergraduate students who voted in the 2016 selection—suggests that Hopkins students are increasingly politically aware, engaged, and passionate about participating in the electoral process.

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The Democracy Project

Johns Hopkins scholars share thoughts on American democracy, looking for signs of peril, threads of hope, and perhaps a shared vision for a better, more inclusive future

With an array of democracy-themed course offerings this spring, Johns Hopkins will give its students opportunities to learn more about the democratic process, political movements, and the forces that pose a threat to liberal democracy in the U.S. and around the world.

"Registering and turning students out to vote is only half the battle when it comes to preparing them for civic engagement," says Hahrie Han, director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins. "Another important step is building a foundation of knowledge about our democratic processes and levers of government to create informed and engaged citizens."

Democracy-themed courses will be offered by both the SNF Agora Institute and the university's Department of Political Science. The course descriptions are below:

Political Science courses

  • Democracy and DictatorshipsSebastian Mazzuca will explore the conceptualization of political regime, democracy, and authoritarianism; the characterization of political regimes in most Western and some non-Western countries, in history and today; and the stability and change of political regimes around the world.

  • Democracy and ElectionsRichard Katz explores the impact of various electoral systems and administrative reforms on the outcome of elections, standards for evaluations of electoral systems, and the impact of the Arrow problem on normative theories of democratic elections.

  • Political Polarization—Cross-posted with the SNF Agora Institute, this course will be led by political scientist Steven Teles and will examine political polarization in the United States, the consequences of party polarization on public policy and governance, and what, if anything, should be done about it.

  • The University in Democracy—Johns Hopkins University president Ronald J. Daniels, a law and economics scholar who has led Johns Hopkins since 2009, will examine the history—and future—of the "indispensable role" universities play in democratic societies.

SNF Agora Institute courses

  • Democracy—SNF Agora Institute Senior Fellows Anne Applebaum and Yascha Mounk explore the philosophical foundations of democracy and the history of democratic revolutions, institutions, and principles.

  • Democracy by the Numbers—Statistician Bryce Corrigan will introduce students to the quantitative measures of facets of democracy—inidcators such as the absence of fraud and integrity in electoral systems—in the United States and internationally.

  • Social Entrepreneurship, Policy, and Systems Change: The Future of Democracy—Visiting SNF Agora Institute Fellow Scott Warren will dissect the dynamics between social entrepreneurship, social change, and policy. This course is cross-posted in the Department of Political Science.

  • This Is Not Propaganda—SNF Agora Institute Senior Fellow Peter Pomerantsev will lead students through an analysis of how our information environment has been transformed, why resistance is failing, and what needs to be done to create a model where deliberative democracy can flourish. This course is cross-posted in the Department of Political Science.