Democracy in Divided Societies

Academic Year: 
Course Description: 

What are the particular challenges that divided societies pose to democracy and how can they be met? This is the leading question guiding the examination of democracy in divided societies. The course will have an empirical focus and review the experience with a variety of political institutions around the world, revisiting the most important scholarly debates, familiarizing students with some of the main cases, and paying particular attention to democracy and social peace in post-conflict societies.

Learning Outcomes: 

At the end of the course the student should be able to:

  • Understand the specific challenges posed by socio-cultural divisions to democracy;
  • Reflect critically on the notions of ethnicity and ethnic conflict;
  • Make an informed choice of political institutions that help to prevent, mitigate, or channel ethnic conflict;
  • Summarize arguments, assess evidence, and formulate an opinion;
  • Communicate effectively his/her informed opinion on the topics covered in class.
  • Five position papers (5 x 18%)
  • Active seminar participation (10%)
  • Alternatively, one presentation (36%) can replace two position papers.

There are nine weeks that are marked “debate” in the syllabus. You are asked to choose five of these debates for a position paper of 800 words each. In this paper, you summarize and critically engage with the arguments and evidence in the reading for that week, concluding with your own evaluation. The position paper is due the day before class that week, at midnight. If you choose to do an extra position paper, the lowest grade will not count. A fail grade, though, will stay.
You have the option of doing three position papers plus one presentation (36%). The presentation is an individual presentation that should last not more than 15 minutes. For more information, see the appendixes to this syllabus. The presentation schedule is finalized in week three of the semester.
Active class participation is expected and graded. Some tips: participate regularly, make informed contributions, focus on the main points, formulate clearly, respond to others in the discussion, and demonstrate critical engagement.
Please note that for all assessments, late submission and violation of the word or time limit will result in a lower grade.

Reading material:
All the course material is available in electronic form. The syllabus only contains the required reading. At the end of each week, suggestions for further reading will be discussed in class.


No prior knowledge is assumed. Students are expected to be present at all seminars and to come prepared. If you are unable to attend class, you should notify me via e-mail prior to the session.