Democratic Challenges – University of Copenhagen

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Political Theory > MSc Specialization > Democratic Challenges

Democratic Challenges (7,5 ETCS)

The aim of this course is to provide an in-depth analysis of the main challenges to democratic government in Europe and elsewhere. To what extent has traditional representative democracy become an inadequate mode of government, and how do pressing issues such as multiculturalism, democratic deficits, inequality, and climate change encourage us to rethink the very idea of democracy?

The first part of course will examine these questions with a focus on new theories of democracy such as republicanism (Pettit), agonism (Honig and Tully), communism (Badiou and Dean), and new materialism (Bennett and Connolly). The second part of the course will turn to actual political issues in order to further advance the discussion of democratic government in the 21st century. Among the topics to be discussed are tolerance, security, free speech, forms of direct action, new global social movements, and climate change.

Democratic Challenges is an intensive course that meets for 4 hours each week during the second half the spring semester. The course is required for students enrolled in the Specialization in Political Theory. All other students are welcome as well.


Readings may include:

Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things.

Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea.

Bosteels, The Actuality of Communism.

Brown, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in an Age of Identity and Empire.

Connolly, The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neo-Liberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism.

Dean, The Communist Horizon.

Forst, Toleration in Conflict.

Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.

Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government.