democracy, cosmopolitanism and the global civil society - university of lucerne 2010

MA course offered at the Department of Political Sciences, University of Lucerne, Switzerland, 2010

In this course we want to explore the transformations in the contemporary socio, economic and political spheres looking at the ‘global’ and ‘transnational’ levels of political action. We will focus on a number of areas of social intervention – justice, democratic institutions, citizenship, global governance, ethical issues, civil society and activism – in order to understand what is changing, its interpretation by contemporary thinkers, the challenges these transformations bring about, and what reforms could promote justice and equality.

The course aims at providing theoretical and conceptual tools to understand our contemporary world. In class we will apply theory and concepts of cosmopolitan democracy to current affairs, and discuss recent events and processes in connection with key debates in the fields of political theory, international political economy, and international relations.

The course consists of four thematic blocks, each composed by three 2-h seminar sessions. Each session is dedicated to a specific theme in cosmopolitan democracy theory and its applications:

  • Block 1. Features of the global: a glossary to understand the contemporary world (dis)order
    Session 1. Globalisation, interdependency, and multilateral governance
    Session 2. Democracy reloaded
    Session 3. Collective agents in a changing world order
  • Block 2. Cosmopolitan democracy
    Session 4. Principles of cosmopolitan democracy
    Session 5. A supranational polis? Rethinking the nation state and the notion of citizenship
    Session 6. Vehicles of cosmopolitan democracy
  • Block 3. Ethics in international relations
    Session 7. Patterns of global inequality
    Session 8. Globalising justice?
    Session 9. Roundtable: Transnational institutions between utopia and Realpolitik
  • Block 4. The public sphere and global civil society
    Session 10. From national to cosmopolitan public spheres?
    Session 11. The emergence of a global civil society
    Session 12. Roundtable: Activism across borders and cosmopolitanism


Learning outcomes
By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of the current debates on cosmopolitan democracy
  • Apply academic concepts and case-specific knowledge on globalisation, governance, and democracy to the changing world order
  • Critically evaluate the impact and role of globalisation and transnational institutions on the social, economic and political spheres
  • Identify key actors, historical moments, and processes in the analysis of international relations in a transnational environment
  • Engage with debates around contestations to globalisations, democracy, war and peace, civil society, global justice
  • Expand their perspectives from a local, national, and/or regional focus to the global and transnational level
  • Discuss the (inter)relationship between national, local and global processes
  • Identify and critically assess relevant approaches from several academic disciplines, including political theory, international relations, international political economy, governance studies, and civil society studies
  • Enhance their abilities to present and discuss ideas in a clear, effective and engaging way.