#InClassToday – How to Defend Democracy

Welcome back to the 255. As we are speeding through the month of October, we would like to wish our students the best of luck during Midterms season. This week we will feature an exciting in-class activity that boosts engagement during these stressful times.

MMC’s Social Sciences’ Assembly, a student organization that promotes student engagement in the social sciences and social justice, co-hosted an event with the PHR/IS department entitled “How to Defend Democracy.” Professor Annabel Hogg, who’s teaching Political Participation this semester, used her class time to provide a space for this crucial dialogue to take place. Professor Hogg’s class discusses the importance of citizens’ participation in government and its relation to ideas of democracy upon which the United States was founded. Professor Hogg, along side Professor Jennifer Mueller, Chair of the International Studies Division, reflected on the decline of U.S. democracy and its global implications.

The first part of the event featured a common read of Steven Trevitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s “The Crisis of American Democracy.” The second part was a teach-in for participants that explained the ways in which we can actively defend against the erosion of the U.S. democracy. Participants raised concerns over the clear erosion of established democratic norms present within the U.S. government over the last few years. Through dialogue, both professors and students alike compiled collective ways that we, as citizens, can fight back.

We took the opportunity to interview Professor Hogg and hear her insight to the relevance of the event and how she is connecting it to her course.

  1. What motivated you to use class time for this event?

The idea for the teach-in came up during a conversation amongst myself and other PHR professors who felt we needed to set aside special time to discuss the gravity of the moment with students. We thought it was important to create a space to discuss just how critical this election is for a myriad of reasons….creeping authoritarianism in the US being a major one! 

2. How does this event coordinate with what you are teaching in the course?

This event dovetailed nicely with my course on Political Participation in that it addressed some of the key questions we discuss in class like: What are our rights and responsibilities as citizens in this moment? What are the various ways we can engage to help protect our democratic values at a time when they are under threat? If the Trump Administration tries to overthrow the democratic process what can we do?

3. Did the event meet your expectations? Why or why not?

This event highly exceeded my expectations! We had a great turnout and it really felt like students and faculty were working through these tough issues together and making a plan to Defend Democracy! It also felt like a good way for everyone to calm the pre-election jitters we are all experiencing!

We thank Professor Hogg for taking the time elaborate on the event and her class. If you want to learn more about this topic and conversation check out the link here for Levitsky and Ziblatt’s “The Crisis of American Democracy.” Lastly, we would like to thank you for joining us here at the 255. As always a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get out and VOTE this November!

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