While assignments are up to the discretion of each individual instructor, most iterations of the course include some combination of the following:
Contributions to our cross-university blog
En lieu of conventional writing assignments, students write posts for our cross-university blog. Each post analyzes some current event in the US or elsewhere through the lens of materials we’ve read and discussed in class. In weeks students don’t write blog posts of their own, they comment on someone else’s post instead.
Country case studies
In spring 2018 this course will be offered as a “capstone” for second-year master’s students at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Students in TAMU’s capstone courses produce policy-relevant, research-based deliverables for external clients.
The client for this course is USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (DRG) division, and the deliverable is a meta-analysis assessing the precursors and symptoms of democratic erosion around the world. In lieu of a final paper, students at all participating universities write case studies analyzing particular countries that have recently experienced episodes of democratic erosion. The students at TAMU will then use those case studies as the basis for their meta-analysis, which will be presented to USAID in May 2018.
Finally, over the course of the semester each student is responsible for attending a political event in the area around their university. The type of event they attend is up to them: it could be a protest, a pro- or anti-Trump rally, a town hall meeting with local or state representatives, an Indivisible meeting, etc. Afterwards they write a blog post reflecting on their experience, drawing on the readings from class to help inform their reflections.