Topic outline

  • Strengthening Democracy in America Series

    The ten free courses in this series are for all those who have not had an opportunity to study the American political system in depth. Each of the courses is divided into various sections with videos, questions for understanding, and discussion questions. We hope that these courses will be of interest to all Americans who wish to learn more about their system of government and how they can best exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens.


    Part 1: An Overview of the Political System Created by the Framers of the Constitution


    Course 1: What Did the Framers Have in Mind When They Created the Constitution?

    Professor Jack Barlow of Juniata College interviewed by Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director, Center for Civic Education

    This first course in the Strengthening Democracy in America series explains why the Framers created the constitutional system, which has lasted with significant modifications to this day. 


    Course 2: What Is the History of the Development of Our Democratic Institutions and Norms?

    William Galston, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, interviewed by Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director, Center for Civic Education

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines the history of the democratic institutions and norms that provide the foundation of our government. It explains the importance of maintaining a balance of power between the three branches of government and how adherence to democratic norms is essential to the healthy functioning of a society.  


    Part 2: Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses of the American Political System and Proposed Remedies


    Course 3: What Are Some Overall Strengths and Weaknesses of the American Political System?

    The Honorable Lee Hamilton interviewed by Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director, Center for Civic Education

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines strengths of the American political system, related weaknesses, and ways by which the system can be improved. 


    Course 4: What Are Some of the Strengths and Weaknesses of Our National Government?

    Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, interviewed by Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director, Center for Civic Education

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines strengths and weaknesses in our system of three branches of national government, including ways of enhancing the strengths and diminishing the weaknesses. This includes claims regarding a breakdown in essential norms and the current extent of polarization in Congress. 


    Course 5: What Are Some of the Strengths and Weaknesses of Our Political Party and Electoral Systems?

    Professor Diana Owen, Georgetown University, interviewed by Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director, Center for Civic Education

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines the basic functions of today’s political parties and the electoral system. The course features a video interview of Professor Diana Owen, a professor of political science teaching in the Communication, Culture, and Technology graduate program at Georgetown University and founder of Georgetown’s Civic Education Research Lab. Fifteen sections of video segments include optional online exercises to check for understanding and open-ended discussion questions.


    Course 6: What Are Some of the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Federal Bureaucracy?

    Professor Paul Light, New York University, interviewed by Christopher Riano, Lecturer in Constitutional Law and Government, Columbia University

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines the role of the federal bureaucracy in the political system. The course features a video interview of Professor Paul Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service and founding principal investigator of the Global Center for Public Service at New York University. Sixteen sections of video segments include optional online exercises to check for understanding and open-ended discussion questions.


    Course 7: What Are Some of the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Media in the Political Process?

    Professor Regina Lawrence, University of Oregon, interviewed by Marilyn Cover, Executive Director Emeritus, Classroom Law Project

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines issues regarding the role of the media in the political process. The course features a video interview of Professor Regina Lawrence, associate dean of the School of Journalism and Communication in Portland and research director for the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon. Seventeen sections of video segments include optional online exercises to check for understanding and open-ended discussion questions.


    Course 8: What Are Some of the Strengths and Weaknesses of the American Political Culture?

    Professor Stephen Farnsworth, University of Mary Washington, interviewed by Professor Diana Owen, Georgetown University

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines issues regarding the American political culture and its role in the political process. The course features a video interview of Professor Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington. Twenty-two sections of video segments include optional online exercises to check for understanding and open-ended discussion questions.


    Course 9: What Are Some of the Strengths and Weaknesses of the American Economic System?

    Professor George Shambaugh, Georgetown University, interviewed by Professor Diana Owen, Georgetown University

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines issues regarding the American economy and its relationship to the political system. The course features a video interview of George Shambaugh, associate professor of international affairs and government in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Twelve sections of video segments include optional online exercises to check for understanding and open-ended discussion questions.


    Course 10: What Are Some of the Strengths and Weaknesses of our Federal System?

    This Strengthening Democracy in America course examines issues regarding the American federal system. The course features a video interview of Professor Francene Engel, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland. Nineteen sections of video segments include optional online exercises to check for understanding and open-ended discussion questions.