American democracy is in crisis. Institutions of government are failing and longstanding rule-of-law norms are under attack. Political polarization is soaring. Economic inequality is at record levels. Racism, white supremacy, and nativism persist, and are even resurgent. Though these crises have reached new proportions, they have their roots in deep legal structures, policies, and histories. This seminar will place the contemporary crisis of American democracy in legal and historical context, exploring how law, history, and political economy have helped shape this current moment. We will then examine how academics, advocates, policymakers, and grassroots movements are attempting to imagine and bring about a new more equitable and inclusive democracy and political economy. Students will read a range of materials from history, social science, political theory, law, and current events. Weekly short comments and a final paper will be required.
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