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HIS 40 — American Democracy in Crisis: Learning from the Past

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 27—Dec 6
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 2
Tuition: $540
Instructor(s): Thomas Ehrlich
Limit: 25
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class on November 22
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Sep 27—Dec 6
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
2 Units
Thomas Ehrlich
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class on November 22
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The period between the 2016 elections and now has marked a chaotic time in American politics. Bitter partisanship, outrageous claims, and differing views of what constitutes truth have resulted in a deeply polarized electoral process. The sense of a nation united by shared beliefs has been battered by division and rancor. A sharp increase in partisan divisiveness has hindered our ability as a nation to address and resolve complex issues facing our country. In short, American democracy is in crisis.

This seminar-style course will focus on democracy in the United States and will use case studies of major events in our national history to explore what happened to American democracy at key pressure points and why. Our historical exploration should shed light on how the current challenges facing American democracy might best be handled.

We will start our exploration with the 1787 Constitutional Convention and James Madison’s proposal that Congress have a veto power over state legislation. Other case studies we will examine include the struggles over Cherokee removal, secession and the Civil War, gerrymandering, Black voting rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Citizens United case. Guest speakers will discuss key issues involving our democracy.

Adjunct Professor, Stanford School of Education

Tom Ehrlich is the former president of Indiana University, provost of the University of Pennsylvania, and dean of Stanford Law School. He was the first president of the Legal Services Corporation and the first director of the International Development Cooperation Agency, reporting to President Jimmy Carter. After his tenure at Indiana University, he was a Distinguished University Scholar at California State University and then a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He is the author, co-author, or editor of fourteen books. He has received five honorary degrees and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ehrlich received a JD from Harvard.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) David A. Moss, Democracy: A Case Study, 1st Edition (ISBN 978-0674237704)