Alderman Stacks

Democratic Statecraft: Democracy and the World

Since the end of World War II, the United States has played an indispensable role in building international institutions, confronting global threats, expanding free trade, and upholding the rule of law. But today, American leadership – and democracy’s preeminence in global affairs – is increasingly in doubt. Around the world, democracy is in retreat, authoritarian populism is on the rise, and an era of great-power competition has returned. Democracies today face growing challenges from nondemocratic nations offering alternatives to liberal democratic governance. Authoritarian rivals such as China, Russia,North Korea, and Iran are maneuvering to erode U.S. influence, fracture democratic alliances, and exploit the openness of democratic societies to weaken them from within.

The future of democracy around the world hinges on whether the United States and its allies can mount an effective response to the twin challenges of authoritarianism and great power competition. Democracies today require a strategy designed to bolster democratic institutions at home and counter the erosion of the liberal world order. The Democratic Statecraft Forum aims to consider the role of democracies in the coming era of authoritarian rivalry. It aims to illuminate challenges to the liberal international order and evaluate possible strategies for coping with those challenges.


Todd Sechser, Professor of Politics


Navigating the Forum

Students in this Forum will begin with an introductory seminar, “Democracies in the World,” that requires students to grapple with the challenges facing democracies in the 21st century. These challenges come in at least three forms: external challenges from authoritarian rivals, security threats, and the instabilities of a globalizing world; internal threats from authoritarian populism, new media dynamics, and other forces confronting traditional democratic institutions; and challenges to the economic and material foundations of democratic nations. The introductory seminar will introduce students to the nature of these challenges, including both presentations from a multidisciplinary group of University of Virginia faculty as well as invited speakers from the U.S. government, think tanks, and other organizations confronting these problems today.

Students will take four required courses (PLIR 1010, ECON 2010, PHIL 2420, and STAT 2120) that will provide students with the social scientific and analytical tools to rigorously evaluate the challenges facing democracies in the 21st century. In addition, students will take elective courses introducing them to the origins of democratic statecraft, the nature of democratic institutions, and global challenges facing democracies. The Forum concludes with a capstone course that builds on the themes introduced in the first semester, including a variety of guest speakers and a final capstone project that asks students to write a policy prescription for safeguarding democratic institutions around the world in the 21st century.


Category I. Core Required Courses (8 Credits)         

    FORU 1500 Introductory Seminar: Democracies in the World (Fall ’20)

                Instructor: Todd Sechser

    FORU 1510 Contimuing the Forum (Spring ’21 and Fall '21)

     FORU 2500: Capstone Seminar (Spring ’22)

               Instructor:Todd Sechser       

    Category II. Forum Literacy Requirements

    All students must complte the following Literacy Requirements 

    • First Writing Requirement
    • Second Writing Requirement
    • World Langauges Requirements


    Category III. Required Forum Classes

    Students must complete the following four courses (12 credits) during their first two years.

    • PLIR 1010 International Relations
    • ECON 2010 Principles of Economics: Microeconomics
    • PHIL 2420 Introduction to Symbolic Logic
    • STAT 2120 Introduction to Statistical Analysis

    Category IV. Ancient and Modern Origins of Democratic Statecraft

    Students must take one course from the follwoing list:

    • ECON 2060 – American Economic History
    • HIEU 1502 – Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History
    • HIEU 2004 – Nationalism in Europe
    • HIEU 2031 – Ancient Greece
    • HIEU 2041 – Roman Republic and Empire
    • HIEU 2061 – The Birth of Europe
    • HIEU 2071 – Early Modern Europe and the World
    • HIEU 2072 – Modern Europe and the World
    • HIEU 2112 – The Emergence of Modern Britain, 1688-2000
    • HIEU 3041 – The Fall of the Roman Republic
    • HIEU 3152 – The British Empire
    • HIEU 3442 – European History: Industrial Revolution to the Welfare State
    • HIST 2002 – The Modern World: Global History since 1760
    • HIUS 2002 – American History Since 1865
    • HIUS 2051 – United States Military History 1600-1900
    • HIUS 2052 – America and War Since 1900
    • HIUS 2060 – American Economic History
    • HIUS 3131 – The Emergence of Modern America, 1870-1930
    • HIUS 3171 – US Since 1945: People, Politics, Power


    Category V. Democratic Institutions

    Students must take one course from the following list:

    • PLAP 1010 – Introduction to American Politics
    • PLAP 2250 – American Political Tradition
    • PLAP 3140 – Mass Media and American Politics
    • PLAP 3270 – Public Opinion and American Democracy
    • PLAP 3310 – American Presidency
    • PLAP 3350 – American Congress
    • PLAP 3610 – Introduction to Public Administration
    • PLCP 1010 – Introduction to Comparative Politics
    • PLCP 3110 – The Politics of Western Europe
    • MDST 3104 – Making (and Faking) the News
    • MDST 3106 – History of American Radio and Television
    • MDST 3140 – Mass Media and American Politics
    • MDST 3402 –War and the Media
    • MDST 3404 – Democratic Politics

    Category VI. The Global Landscape

    Students must take one course from the following list:

    • ANTH 1050 – Anthropology of Globalization
    • ANTH 2285 – Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism
    • GSSJ 3010 – Global Issues of Security and Justice
    • HIST 2214 – The Cold War
    • HIST 3162 –War and Society in the Twentieth Century
    • HIST 3281 – Genocide
    • LPPS 3240 – Terrorism and Counterterrorism
    • LPPS 3295 – Global Humanitarian Crisis Response
    • MDST 3630 – Screening Terrorism
    • PHS 3825 – Global Public Health: Challenges and Innovations
    • PLCP 2420 – Politics of Modernity
    • PLCP 3012 – The Politics of Developing Areas
    • PLCP 3210 – Russian Politics
    • PLCP 3330 – Politics of Latin America
    • PLCP 3410 – Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
    • PLCP 3610 – Chinese Politics
    • PLCP 3630 – Politics in India and Pakistan
    • PLIR 2020 – Foreign Policies of the Powers
    • PLIR 3010 – Theories of International Relations
    • PLIR 3060 – Military Force in International Relations
    • PLIR 3080 – International Politics in the Nuclear Age
    • PLIR 3310 – Ethics and Human Rights in World Politics
    • PLIR 3400 – Foreign Policy of the United States
    • PLIR 3610 – European Union in World Affairs
    • PLIR 3760 – Russia/USSR in World Affairs
    • RELG 3605 – Religion, Violence and Strategy
    • RELG 3820 – Global Ethics and Climate
    • SOC 3480 – Sociology of Globalization

    Category VII. Sciences

    Students must complete two three-or-more credit courses among the followng departments: ASTR, PHYS, CHEM, BIOL, or EVSC.