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POL 116 — The Global Crisis of Democracy

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Jan 24—Mar 7
Time: 5:00—6:30 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 26
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $375
Instructor(s): Larry Diamond
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
5:00—6:30 pm (PT)
Jan 24—Mar 7
7 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 26
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Larry Diamond
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)

For the past decade and a half, the world has been mired in a deepening democratic recession. Many countries have lost democracy due to political polarization, executive abuse, and military coups. In dozens more countries, freedom is in retreat, along with the quality and stability of democratic institutions.

In this course, we will explore why democracy is in crisis globally, how the crisis varies across countries and regions of the world, and what can be done to reverse the course. The opening lecture will survey the broad global trends and causes, including factors like corruption, globalization, and social media that have helped bring to power a wave of illiberal populist leaders. We will also consider how the rising power and ambition of authoritarian states like China and Russia and the declining relative power and stature of the United States have put democracy on the defensive. Subsequent lectures by leading specialists will examine democratic trends and challenges in major regions of the world. The final lecture will present a comprehensive strategy to reverse the global decline of democracy and catalyze what Abraham Lincoln termed “a new birth of freedom.”


LISA BLAYDES, Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Director of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, Stanford

Lisa Blaydes is the author of Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt and State of Repression: Iraq under Saddam Hussein, coeditor of Struggles for Political Change in the Arab World, and a leading scholar of Arab politics and the dynamics of authoritarian regimes.

BRETT CARTER, Hoover Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford; Faculty Affiliate, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford; Assistant Professor, USC

Brett Carter’s work focuses on politics in the world’s autocracies. His forthcoming book, Propaganda in
, marshals a range of empirical evidence to probe the politics of authoritarian propaganda. His second book project is Autocracy in Post-Cold War Africa.

BEATRIZ MAGALONI, Professor of Political Science, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and Founding Director of the Poverty, Violence, and Governance Lab within FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford

Beatriz Magaloni is the author of numerous academic articles and three books, including Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and its Demise in Mexico and The Political Logic of Poverty Relief, and is currently working on a book about criminal governance and policing in Rio de Janeiro.

DINSHA MISTREE, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Research Fellow, Rule of Law Program, Stanford Law School; Affiliated Scholar, Center of Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford

Dinsha Mistree’s teaching and research focus on the relationship between governance and economic growth, particularly in India. He is the coeditor of a forthcoming volume on the state of India’s democracy.

KATHRYN STONER, Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law; Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Professor, by courtesy, of Political Science and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Hoover Institution, Stanford

Kathryn Stoner is a leading specialist on contemporary Russian politics and democratic transitions. Her most recent book is Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order.


Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution and Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Professor, by courtesy, of Political Science and Sociology, Stanford

Larry Diamond’s research focuses on democratic trends and conditions around the world and on policies and reforms to defend and advance democracy. He has received the Dinkelspiel, Lyman, and Cuthbertson awards for exceptional contributions to Stanford, and he is a past faculty director of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. In 2004, he served in Baghdad as a senior advisor on governance to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He is the author of seven books, including Ill Winds: Saving Democracy From Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency, and the editor or coeditor of 50 books. Diamond served for 32 years as founding coeditor of the Journal of Democracy.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.