Democratic to Authoritarian Rule Teach-Out


This event is part of Michigan’s Teach-Out Series which provides just-in-time community learning opportunities for participants around the world to come together in conversation with the U-M campus community, including faculty experts.

How does history help us understand today’s political climate?

Political systems in many countries around the world have shifted from more democratic to more authoritarian tendencies. A deeper understanding and knowledge of this past can inform how we understand contemporary political changes.

This Teach-Out will bring together expert knowledge about democracies and the processes that erode democratic decision-making and structures. By examining historical and comparative patterns, learners will gain a better understanding of contemporary politics.​

Guest contributors include:
Sheri Berman (Barnard College, Columbia University)
Juan Cole (University of Michigan)
Fatma Müge Göçek (University of Michigan)
Pauline Jones (University of Michigan)
Robert Kaufman (Rutgers University)
Maria Carmen Lemos (University of Michigan)
Maria Victoria Murillo (Columbia University)
Brian Porter-Szucs (University of Michigan)

What you'll learn:
Make better sense of political changes by thinking systematically about different kinds of impediments to democratic politics and decision making
Become familiar with steps through which political systems move toward greater authoritarian rule
Learn frameworks to assess how contemporary changes relate to democratic vs. authoritarian tendencies
Interact with others for greater critical appreciation of changing political structures and processes


  • Arun Agrawal

    Arun Agrawal

    Samuel Trask Dana Professor

    School for Environment and Sustainability


5 out of 5 stars

February 21, 2018

A good topic for recent times...

2 out of 5 stars

February 20, 2018

I think many of the examples and questions in the teach out are good. Unfortunately they come with an agenda relating Trump (whom I don't like) to other right wing authoritarians. Where is the balance with left wing authoritarians? Venezuela, Laos, Cuba, Zambabwe, ANC-SA, China-North Korea, etc.? No where does it reference Obama's use of rules, executive orders and courts to bypass amendments to the US constitution to add new "rights". In fact both parties in the US have bypassed the use of amending the US Constitution and punted to the Supreme Court and lower courts to stack the deck in their favor. We know the amendment process works, the prohibition is proof (pun intended). I would have to fail this teach out on objectivity.