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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sabine Lang
SIS 498
Seattle Campus

Readings in International Studies

Reading and discussion of selected works of major importance in interdisciplinary international studies. Restricted to majors in International Studies.

Class description

Civil Society and Political Publics in a Globalizing World

Economic and political globalization has led to concerns about the decline of civic engagement and participatory democracy. Yet there are also indicators for a new global dimension of activism such as the global social justice movement or transnational women's movements. This course will explore the transformation of civil societies in the process of globalization. The first part of this reading course will examine theories of civil society and the political public with an emphasis on scale and mobilization. In the second half we will investigate actors and organizations that are key to civic participation: What is the actual and potential role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), foundations and more fluid transnational networks in creating civic institutions and mobilizing citizens? How does web-based communication technology affect the potential for public voice? And do, or should, state institutions take on responsibility for mobilizing citizen engagement with their society?

Student learning goals

Students will study key theoretical texts on civil society and the public sphere.

They will be able to discuss the global transformation of civic activism in the context of these theories.

They will examine the role of a number of civic actors and of communication media in the process of globalization.

General method of instruction

lectures and seminar discussion

Recommended preparation

This is a reading intensive course. Students should be interested in digesting theory and in applying it to present-day developments.

Class assignments and grading

Class participation and review papers

Oral presentations 40%, written work 60%.


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 Sabine Lang
Date: 01/25/2011