Spring 2021

Constitutional Democracy in the Weimar Republic

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-361


Freke Ette (Section 01)


Liberal democracy is under threat today. The parallels drawn to the rise of National Socialism in the 1930s no longer seem farfetched. Hitler’s eventual seizure of power marked the collapse of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), Germany’s first real experiment with a democratic regime. This course explores crucial political debates during the Weimar era regarding the nature of its constitution. As the United States addresses similar concerns--economic instability, creeping authoritarianism, and fervid nationalism--that plagued the Weimar Republic, Americans have much to learn from those earlier discussions. We will consider how German legal scholars answered questions such as: What is democracy? Where does the source of political authority in a constitution come from? What is the relationship between liberalism and democracy? Is democracy compatible with capitalism? How can fundamental rights be protected in a democratic constitution? By the end of the course, students will possess a greater knowledge of the theories and practice of constitutional democracy. They will also deepen their understanding of the historical conditions that make democratic failure possible.

Requisite: At least one POSC course numbered 200 or above. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Ette.


Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021