Democratic innovations and participatory governance

What are democratic innovations? In what ways do they reimagine the role of citizens in governance processes? How can we evaluate their functioning? This course aims to familiarise students with alternative forms of structured participation in democratic decision-making by exploring participatory and deliberative models of governance. The purpose is threefold: First, to debate the merits of democratic innovations against the background of increased dissatisfaction with representative democracy; second, to study various formats of participatory and deliberative governance implemented at different levels of governance around the world; and third, to evaluate the promises and pitfalls of such participatory institutions from both a normative and an empirical standpoint. Case studies of democratic innovations are central to the course, including discussions of participatory budgeting, popular assemblies, randomly selected mini-publics, deliberative polling, direct legislation (referenda, citizens' initiatives), as well as different forms of civic technologies (e-democracy). From a disciplinary perspective, the course combines political theory, comparative politics and policy studies, asking students to critically apply and engage with the literature on democratic innovations. Through case study discussions, presentations, academic essays and research papers, students are expected to take stock of democratic reforms introduced in the last 30 years in countries around the world.

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.

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