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Georgetown University – Master of Arts Program in Democracy Studies

The Center for Democracy and Civil Society has established a two-year Master of Arts Program in Democracy Studies through the Department of Government. Intended to meet the diverse needs of all those who seek a deeper understanding of democracy and processes of democratization, the ground-breaking program will be of special interest for those seeking to develop careers working on behalf of democratic change in a wide range of professional and academic settings, in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Struggles over democracy have become a defining feature of contemporary life, in the U.S. and around the world. Over the past three decades, transitions from authoritarianism to some form of democratic rule have occurred in virtually every world region. Yet if democratic norms and institutions have spread around the world, they are far from universal, and their persistence is far from assured. Authoritarian legacies have proven more tenacious than anyone would have expected fifteen years ago, when the fall of the Berlin Wall created a sense of near euphoria for a new era of democracy, pluralism, and human rights. In some countries, authoritarian practices continue to undermine the struggles of tenacious democrats. In others, democratic practices, including elections, have been used to undermine the rights of minorities or impose illiberal agendas. Even in consolidated democracies, important questions remain about the quality of democratic life, civic participation, and the commitment of citizens to democracy.

These trends reinforce crucial changes in the evolution and direction of American foreign policy. Democracy promotion has become a central focus of U.S. policy around the world, with significant implications. Not least, this trend has fueled the growth of professional opportunities linked to democracy and democratization, including careers in fields such as democracy promotion, the organization and oversight of elections, the development of civil society, strengthening human rights, supporting the rule of law, and many others.

In response, and to provide the necessary foundations both for applied careers and for further academic training on issues of democracy and democratic change, the Center for Democracy and Civil Society has established a two-year M.A. program in Democracy Studies through the Department of Government. Intended to meet the diverse needs of all those who seek a deeper understanding of democracy and processes of democratization, the program will be of special interest for those seeking to develop careers working on behalf of democratic change in a wide range of professional and academic settings, in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The aim of the program is to ensure that those entering careers related to democracy and democratization possess the conceptual and practical knowledge, and the analytic tools, to perform effectively, and to place the immediate demands of their positions in a broader perspective. The program is designed to provide students with the critical intellectual and historical perspective you need about the contexts in which you are working, including a keen sense of both the possibilities for, but also the limits of, efforts to promote democratic change around the world.

Program Aims and Structure

The goal of the Democracy Studies M.A. program is to provide graduate students with a systematic understanding of the history and theory of democracy, the forms and practices of democratic governance, the theory and practice of democratization, and the relationship between democracy and development. Towards this end, the program will provide a two-year, 42-credit hour curriculum that illuminates the challenges that contemporary democracies face, the philosophical, socio-economic, and political forces that have fostered reform and democratic transitions across the globe, and the practical problems that confront practitioners in the field of democracy promotion.

Committed to the proposition that democracy studies must be informed by rigorous, objective scholarship, the program will challenge you to think critically and practically; to place current efforts to promote democracy in historical context; to understand how current ideas about democratization emerged from, and sometimes challenge, modern political theories of democracy; to appreciate the potential benefits of democratic change; but also to understand both the social and political problems facing contemporary democracies, as well as the obstacles to democratic reform and the factors that have sustained autocracy in developing states.

This twin focus on challenges in contemporary democracies and democratization in developing states is a key foundation of this program. Designed for both aspiring scholars and for present and future practitioners in government, business, and the non-profit sector, the M.A. program will highlight the complex links between the theory of democracy and democratization on the one hand, and the concrete practice of representative democracy and transition politics, on the other.

In short, the M.A. program will provide you with the knowledge you need to understand the changing forms and practices of democracy including the role of civil society and social movements in democratic life, the impact of globalization on democracy, current debates on accountability and governance, and the relationship between democracy, corruption, and the rule of law. At the same time, it will highlight how such dynamics affect political change in different countries and regions.

Drawing on the expertise of Georgetown faculty on processes of democratic reform in Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and other regions, the program will link the conceptual study of democratization to its practical implications for change in different cultural, political, and social contexts. The link between theory and practice will not simply highlight contemporary struggles for change, but also the many obstacles that continue to obscure the path to democracy, or which create a myriad of semi-authoritarian "hybrid regimes" whose capacity to endure must be understood by everyone who hopes to craft a more comprehensive democratic life. In other words, the program will help you grasp the hard facts of democratization, and in so doing, better equip you for careers in the expanding field of democracy promotion and other related areas.

Internships in Democracy Studies

The practical and scholarly training required for entrance into the competitive field of democracy promotion is such that no program could succeed without including an internship component that gives students experience in professional arenas germane to their studies and career plans. Georgetown's Democracy Studies Program will do so by drawing on the unique universe of governmental and non-government organizations in the D.C. area that address issues of political and social change, especially in developing states. Apart from the extraordinary opportunities that Washington provides, the M.A. program will help to ensure access to these opportunities through a diverse faculty, many of whom have worked in government and the NGO world. Both Daniel Brumberg, Director of the M.A. program in the Government Department, and Steven Heydemann, Director of the Center for Democracy and and Civil Society, have worked closely with a host of such organizations including USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, the Journal of Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the United States Institute for Peace.

Resource Link: cdacs.georgetown.edu/democracystudies

democracystudies@georgetown.edu

202-687-0593

Georgetown University, 3240 Prospect Street NW

Washington

DC

20007

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