Recent years have witnessed a deluge of commentary warning of imminent threats to democracy in the US, the West and the world. In the US, this rhetoric has become especially heated with the rise of Donald Trump.
Is American democracy really under threat? What about democracy in the West, or the world more generally? If democracy is under threat, what can we do about it? And if it’s not under threat, why are so many of us so worried that it is? The Democratic Erosion consortium aims to help answer these questions through a combination of teaching, research, and civic and policy engagement.
Democratic Erosion is a cross-university collaboration that helps students and faculty evaluate threats to democracy both here and abroad through the lens of theory, history and social science.
Since fall 2017, faculty at over 40 universities have taught from the same shared syllabus on democratic erosion. We have also constructed a unique event dataset capturing the symptoms and precursors of democratic erosion across countries and over time, which we have used to conduct research and prepare reports for our partners in the policy community. Our students collaborate on assignments and are expected to engage not only with their peers, but with the public as well.
Importantly, the consortium is not intended as a partisan critique of Donald Trump, or of any other politician or political party. Our goal is to treat the threat of democratic erosion as an empirical question, rather than merely a political one.