Democracy and Issues in Contemporary Political Development

Course Title:  Democracy and Issues in Contemporary Political Development   

Course #207

4 Tuesdays, Mar. 22-April 12, 4-6pm, Iron County Board Room, Hurley, WI

Objectives:  This course is designed to help students develop a deeper understanding of what democracy is, and is not, in context of contemporary political issues. Participants will learn about the origins of democracy and the differences between parliamentary, presidential, and semi-presidential models of democracy. Sessions will explore how executive, legislative, and judicial institutions vary across countries, emphasizing the concepts of freedom and equality. Upon course completion, students will be able to identify how elites, society, culture, modernization, and international relations shape modern-day democratic development.   

Course structure:  The course will be given in 4 sessions, each 120 minutes long, covering the following topics:

Week 1: Defining Democracy: Origins and Competing Definitions

Week 2: Institutions of the Democratic State and Contemporary Models of Democracy

Week 3: Political Parties and Electoral Systems

Week 4: Democratic Development and Future Challenges

Requirements: Students should have an interest in comparative politics, political processes and state institutions. Reading materials will be acquired through public sources or provided by the instructor. Students will be expected to complete assigned reading between class sessions and come to class prepared to have thought-provoking discussions. Students will complete in-class assignments and group work to enhance critical thinking and may be expected to complete short writing assignments (1-2 pages) out of class. Students are asked to attend class with an open mind and be open to others’ views, as discussions of political issues often touch on topics viewed as controversial or difficult.

Instructor: Jennifer Kuklenski is an instructor in social science and social responsibility at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, MI and Northland College in Ashland, WI. Ms. Kuklenski has over ten years of experience working as an Intelligence Analyst for the Minnesota Air National Guard, has worked for the Governor of Minnesota, and has held two federal positions and one contract position for the U.S. Department of Defense. She has also held a teaching appointment in International Political Relations at the University of Maryland University College – Europe. Ms. Kuklenski earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from St. Cloud State University and Master’s degree in International Security from the University of Arizona’s School of Government and Public Policy. Ms. Kuklenski is currently completing her Ph.D. in International Development at the University of Southern Mississippi with emphases in Political Development and Security Studies. Her current research is focused on the democratic peace theory and the role of political developments in international conflict resolution. Her paper, “Water is Life: An exploration of liberal peace in drought-stricken areas,” will be presented at the annual International Studies Association Convention in March.  

Course Fee: $30 (note, $5 discount if registration is postmarked by March 8)