American Democracy: Ver 2.0


At a Glance

  • Professor Dan Kryder
  • Summer 2014, 10 weeks, June 2 - August 8, 2014
  • 12 credits
  • Refer to "Quick Links" in the right sidebar for more information

Will new political technologies, such as social media and big data, move us toward or away from our ideals of inventiveness, engagement, democracy, and freedom?

“To Brandeis, as to Jefferson, the key to a successful democracy lies in the spirit, the vitality, the daring, the inventiveness of its citizens,” according to one historian. Over the course of two centuries, the American citizenry has continually reinvigorated citizenship with new demands - and new methods for making them. Starting with Louis Brandeis’s “True Americanism” address (Faneuil Hall, Boston, July 5, 1915), students will consider competing ideas of citizenship and various social movements from the past and present in hopes of clarifying the risks and opportunities inherent in the remarkable range of new political technologies available to both citizens hoping to make democracy work as well as to authorities seeking to regulate social action.

Through coursework, visiting lectures by practitioners and hands-on experience, students will master both the theoretical foundations of as well as the practical, real world lessons of various political experiments using new technologies, such as Organizing for Action, the high tech campaign for Obama's legislative action; Code for America, which place software developers within local governments; or Freedom to Marry, whose social media campaign propelled state level campaigns for same sex marriage. We will also pay significant if not equal attention to the efforts of authorities, from local police agencies to the NSA, who seek to monitor or control citizens for various reasons.

POL 154aj: Seminar: Citizenship
POL 108aj: The Police and Social Movements in American Politics
POL 92bj: Internship or POL 98aj: Research Project