Summer Timetable

POL438H1F L0101

Topics in Comparative Politics I

Democracy in the Age of Digital Authoritarianism


The American think tank Freedom House reported the fifteenth consecutive year of global democratic backsliding in 2021. This democratic recession is occurring simultaneously as new and highly-sophisticated technologies for surveillance, censorship, and information manipulation have proliferated. While the use of these technologies for digital subversion and controls have been known to be part of an autocrat’s playbook, democracies have steadily adopted these approaches as well. To better understand these trends, this course examines the key actors and institutions involved in the governance of the Internet and considers their democratic and civic implications. We will study digital authoritarianism and the models of Internet controls espoused by China and Russia, and the adoption of illiberal practises in the digital sphere by select countries around the world. Finally, we will explore issues related to the Internet and gender, terrorism, and artificial intelligence and Big Data. Coursework required includes essays, presentations, and class participation.



Format and Requirements



2.0 credits in POL/ JPA/ JPF/ JPI/ JPR/ JPS/ JRA courses