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POL 62 B — Defending Democracy at Home and Abroad

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 11—May 30
Time: 5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 13
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $405
Instructor(s): Rob Reich, Marietje Schaake, Michael McFaul
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Apr 11—May 30
8 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 13
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Rob Reich, Marietje Schaake, Michael McFaul
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The United States, once a key champion of democracy around the world, has experienced unprecedented polarization during the past decade, with divisions running deep over Covid, voting rights and election results, and questions of identity and inclusion. These divisions have only been exacerbated by America’s own tech companies, whose business models encourage citizens to engage with divisive content rather than a healthy democratic process. Divided domestically and embracing new strains of illiberalism, the US has also retreated internationally, neglecting traditional alliances and its commitment to democracy abroad. That America has struggled to defend democracy abroad isn’t an accident. It’s directly related to the dents in its democracy at home.

Democracy is in decline worldwide. Old democracies are not performing as well as before. Growing competition between democratic and authoritarian countries is playing out on the global stage, with several countries undecided as to their alignment either way. Infrastructure investments, strategic alignments, and soft power are all part of the mix of geopolitical tools deployed in this competition. The same holds true for technology, which deeply impacts power relationships, values, and freedoms across the globe. Can the US sustain democracy abroad, let alone at home? It’s not a given.

This course will explore the battle for the future of democracy. The course will examine the merits of democracy compared with the alternatives, challenges to democracy both in the United States and around the world, and solutions for defending and advancing democracy at home and abroad. A political philosopher, a former European parliamentarian, and a former US ambassador to Russia, the course instructors bring together a unique set of experiences that guarantee thoughtful and provocative discussions about one of the most important issues of our time.

The list of speakers will continue to be updated, with more participants added in the coming days.

Guest Speakers:

LARRY DIAMOND, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Professor, by courtesy, of Political Science and Sociology, Stanford

HAKEEM JEFFERSON, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Faculty Affiliate, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and Stanford Center for American Democracy, Stanford

ELBEGDORJ TSAKHIA, Former President and former Prime Minister of Mongolia and current Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford

Continuing Studies students who enroll in Section A of this course will have the option to attend sessions on campus. Students who enroll in Section B of this course will participate live over Zoom. Students will have access to class recordings for the duration of the course. This course is designed for the entire Stanford community, and Continuing Studies students will be joined by Stanford undergraduate and graduate students.

Professor of Political Science, Stanford

Rob Reich is the director of the Center for Ethics in Society, co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and an associate director of the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. His most recent books are System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot (with Mehran Sahami and Jeremy M. Weinstein) and Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better.

International Policy Director, Cyber Policy Center; International Policy Fellow, Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Stanford

Marietje Schaake was a member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Liberal Democratic Party from 2009 to 2019, where she focused on trade, foreign affairs, and technology policies. She is an advisory board member for a number of nonprofits, including MERICS, eCFR, ORF, and AccessNow. Schaake writes a monthly column for the Financial Times.

Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies, Department of Political Science; Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford

Michael McFaul joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. He is an international affairs analyst for NBC News and a columnist for The Washington Post. He served in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009–2012), and then as US Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012–2014). He has authored several books, most recently From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia.

Textbooks for this course:

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