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2022 Spring


Robert Warren
For information about registration please contact our admissions.


Here is the course outline:

1. Introduction: The Histories & Principles of Democracy

Feb 7

1) Course overview, methods of evaluation, defining terminology 2) A history of the development of democratic principles, from Ancient Greece to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the fledgling democracies of the post-colonial world.

2. The Fundamentals of Free Speech & The Informed Citizen

Feb 14

This class examines the founding principles of free speech in the pursuit of self-realization and democratic values. It aims to highlight the paradoxical nature of the democratic system as a dialectic, and raises issues of the Self and Other as posed by Hegel.

3. Public Relations & the Malleable Masses

Feb 21

Looking at the theories of four key thinkers (Lippmann, Dewey, Bernays, and Habermas) the ideas of the public sphere and public opinion will be examined. Additionally, Adam Curtis’ landmark documentary The Century of the Self, will be used to help understand the development of public relations in 1920s United States, and the resulting explosion of psychoanalysis as a tool of public persuasion.

4. Democracy, Media, & the Free Market

Feb 28

To examine the impact of big business and corporate media oligopolies on the dissemination of information. Special attention will be paid to Chomsky and Herman’s five point ‘Propaganda Model.’

5. Press Freedom & Global Threats to Democracy

Mar 7

Using investigative research from a series of press freedom NGOs, we will examine the rates of journalistic freedom worldwide, establishing what are the current trends and in what direction are they moving? Several case studies of interest will be used in our analysis, namely Hungary, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.


Mar 14

Based on all classes and readings up to this point of the semester, the exam will be in the form of multiple-choice questions and short essays.

7. Whistleblowing & the Case for Transparency

Mar 21

To understand the role of whistleblowers and the rise of Wikileaks, its role in journalism, the arguments for and against the dissemination of classified information, and ultimately its impact on an informed citizenry. Snowden's revelations of NSA and GCHQ mass surveillance will also be central to our discussion.

8. Has the Internet Changed Democracy?

Apr 4

An investigation into the seismic impact of the internet on information dissemination; specifically examining issues regarding: social media, open source, blogging, fake news, and the impact of algorithms on the polarization of political opinion.

9. Safeguards to Democracy: The Paradox of Government Regulation

Apr 11

Understanding the paradoxical position of the government in the regulation of media outlets in the interest of democratic values. The Fairness Doctrine of 1949 and issues of net neutrality in the 21st century will be central to the class.

10. Student Presentations Pt. 1

Apr 25

Task: Students will present an 8-10 minute case study on a selected theory or topic from the course readings.

11. Student Presentations Pt. 2

May 2

Task: Students will present an 8-10 minute case study on a selected theory or topic from the course readings.

12. Guest Lecture: Martin Maska (Evropsky Dialog)

May 9

Presentation by Martin Maska from NGO Evropsky Dialog on media literacy in the EU and its impact on European democracies. Followed by Q&A

13. The Role of Media Entertainment in Political Discourse

May 16

The ideas in this class will revolve around the theories of James Curran in his book 'Media & Democracy,' regarding the ways in which both film and TV entertainment media often present a wide array of political persuasions; from the empowering rhetoric of liberal individualism, to the tight social bonds of conservative collectivism.


May 23

Based on all classes and readings from the whole course. The exam will be in the form of multiple-choice questions and short essays.

15. Media Case Study: Murdoch's Australia

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