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The Ideal of Democracy

This course focuses on the promise of democracy and the challenges it faces today. The goal of the course is to prepare students to navigate issues in our current social and political landscape.


We spend the first half of the semester exploring what democracy is at its best and what is necessary for democracy to succeed. We begin by reading theories about the ideals of democracy as well as alternatives to democratic systems. Then, we explore contemporary issues that raise challenges for a democracy: oppression, segregation, poverty, inequality, and mass incarceration.


The second half of the semester is devoted to understanding the role of communication in a deliberative democracy. We look at how language can shape perceptions and treatment of people, who is granted credibility in our debates, fake news and propaganda, echo chambers, and finally tools for more productive dialogues. We end the semester by exploring the nature of political responsibility, patriotism, and protest.




Note: This course description is for the sections of PHI 104 taught by Prof. Cassie Herbert; sections taught by other professors may cover different material.

Dates offered

This course is offered every Fall at Illinois State University.

  • Fall 2021, Illinois State University

  • Fall 2020, Illinois State University

  • Fall 2019, Illinois State University

  • Fall 2018, Illinois State University

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