Oslo, Norway

How Democracies Emerge and Survive

online course
when 28 June 2021 - 6 August 2021
language English
duration 6 weeks
credits 15 EC

This course introduces the academic study of how democracies emerge, sustain, and break down. Following the optimism of the so-called third wave in the 1980s and 1990s, democracy is currently in a wave of global recession. While democracies used to break down in easily identifiable ways - for instance through military coups - current democratic backsliding tends to happen gradually and under legal disguise. Even in long-standing democracies such as the United States and France, nativist and populist political leaders question liberal, democratic arrangements that have long been taken for granted.

Beyond these empirical tendencies, there are also fears that democracy is losing some of its appeal as the ideal mode of governance. Authoritarian leaders frequently point to the economic successes of such non-democratic regimes such as China and Singapore, and the poverty levels in democracies such as India and Bangladesh to argue that citizens' prosperity and well-being will be best ensured from strong leaders with long-term visions rather than political participation.

This course combines academic insights on democratic development with a deep and practical understanding of current democratic challenges around the world. It offers guest lectures from world-leading academic experts and civil society activists and draws on a diverse set of reading material.

Target group

Applicants with a completed Bachelor’s degree or a period of study comparable with a Norwegian Bachelor's degree from a recognized institution.

The course is open to students from a broad range of disciplines, though it relies most strongly on the frameworks of the social sciences. Students with a degree outside of the social sciences are also encouraged to apply, but should explain how their disciplinary background may add to class discussions.

Course aim

Upon completion of the course, the students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the evolution and deterioration of democracies. They will be better placed to analyze the trajectories and challenges of democratization, and how these can be addressed. Students will also improve their ability to effectively articulate complex ideas and to collaborate with students from other backgrounds.

Fee info

NOK 0: Due to the fluid situation regarding the Coronavirus, all Master's courses will be offered as digital courses, at no cost (students must buy course books themselves).