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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Deborah E. Kamen
HUM 597
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in the Humanities

Credit/no-credit only.

Class description

Democracy is generally recognized to be a “good thing,” but what exactly is democracy and what makes it good? How did the ancient Greeks—the inventors of democracy—define this concept, and what value did they believe it had? What lessons can contemporary theorists and citizens of democratic societies draw from this ancient perspective?

Held in conjunction with Josiah Ober’s Katz Lectureship, this microseminar will approach these questions from a number of disciplinary and methodological perspectives in order to gain a fuller understanding of the meaning and utility of democracy, participants will study antiquity and modernity comparatively.

Josiah Ober (Classics and Political Science, Stanford University) is a leading theorist of democracy, deliberation, political dissent, and institutional design, whose teaching and research links ancient Greek history and philosophy with modern political theory and practice. Author of such books as Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens (2008), Ober looks to the democracy of ancient Athens to explore political issues of the present and reimagine forms of democratic engagement.

Student learning goals

Students will learn how to approach a particular theoretical question (namely, what is democracy) from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives;

to perform a thoughtful comparative study of antiquity and modernity in light of this question;

and to apply the lessons drawn from scholarship to contemporary democracies, whether established or developing.

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

The microseminar will appeal to students of Classics, Philosophy, History, and Political Science as well as those studying emerging democracies through International Studies or Public Affairs.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Miriam Bartha
Date: 01/29/2013