Fall 2023

The Death of American Democracy

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-226


Austin D. Sarat (Section 01)


The United States is at a crossroads in its political history. Long thought of as the paradigmatic example of a stable, multiracial, multiethnic, constitutional democracy, today Americans are coming to terms with the fact that this country’s history is more complex than that imagining would suggest and the fact that survival of our democratic institutions can no longer be taken for granted. The questions that will guide this course are: How has the United States come to this point, and how did we reach the current crisis of democracy? We will also consider whether the present crisis has been precipitated and shaped by our very aspiration to build a racially and ethnically inclusive society. How does that crisis play out in the internet/social media era? And have Americans forgotten what it means to think and act in a democratic fashion? Is the constitutional framework adequate to the challenges the United States now faces? What economic, cultural, social, and political changes will be necessary if a genuinely inclusive democracy is to be realized and preserved? What habits of mind need to be cultivated for that to occur? We will draw on literary and popular culture sources and authors like Amanda Gorman, Toni Morrison and Layli Long Soldier, as well as study thinkers such as Michael Sandel, Nikole-Hannah Jones, Ibram X. Kendi, Robert Putnam, Amy Chua, Anne Applebaum, Adrian Vermeule, and Danielle Allen.

Limited to 15 students. Priority given to sophomores. Fall semester. Professor Austin Sarat.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority given to Sophomores.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Frequent writing, class participation, group work.

POSC 226 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM CLAR 100
Th 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM CLAR 100

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The Tyranny of Merit Routledge Michael Sandel Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024