Can former political enemies become partners? What role do political institutions play in this process? Is democracy viable in divided societies? Some of human’s greatest minds such as Plato, Aristotle and John Stuart Mill have long ago argued that democracy is difficult to attain in divided societies. However, in 1969, political scientist Arend Lijphart revolutionized comparative politics by showing that democracy can and have actually survived in divided societies under the banner of consocitational democracy. He used the cases of Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland to show how different groups shared power, making democracy stable in inherently hostile contexts. This particular type of democracy where groups share power have been applied and studied across the globe in countries as different as Bosnia, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Cyprus, India, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Some of these experiences were a great success and some were a complete failure.
This is an unusual course; it is neither a seminar nor a lecture but rather a Q-Team. It is based on the principles of inquiry-based learning. Collectively, we want to answer the following question: What is known from the existing literature published between 1969 and 2018 about how power sharing contributes to democratic stability across the globe? Students will be divided into groups based on regional interest: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, etc. Together we will carry out a pioneering scoping study of the vast power sharing literature. A scoping study is a more advanced and structured form of a literature review. It maps the concepts in addition to evidence sources and types in a particular field (Mays, Roberts, and Popay 2001, 194). The findings of the scoping study will be synthesized after the course into a paper, that will hopefully be published in an academic journal. All students who contributed to the regional scoping study paper will be listed as co-authors.
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