Fall 2021


Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-370

Moodle site: Course


Ruxandra Paul (Section 01)


This seminar examines how the digital age (the third industrial revolution) has transformed politics around the world, in democratic and non-democratic contexts. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) change how people, states, and non-state actors interact. Technology creates new access points and vulnerabilities, new windows of opportunity and new politically salient actors, new political behaviors and types of participation. The course includes four modules: e-democracy (online social capital, digital citizenship, hashtag movements, online electoral campaigns, election hacking and "fake news," participation, information/disinformation strategies - e.g. the use of troll farms and bot armies to undermine democratic processes and trust in open societies); cyber security (cyberwar, cyberattacks, defense, terrorism, surveillance, privacy); online revolutions and authoritarian resilience (regime change, democracy promotion, censorship, ); and beyond borders (social movements and hacktivism, crypto currencies, global markets and tech giants, etc.).

The course asks four big questions:

1.     How does digital technology transform democracy and democratic politics?

2.     How does the Digital Age influence national and international security?

3.     Do ICTs undermine or strengthen nondemocratic regimes?

4.     What political, economic and social changes occur at the subnational and supranational level as a result of new technologies?

We use current issues and cases (e.g. disinformation campaigns/fake news ops, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo/#NiUnaMenos, the Arab Spring, online radicalization, the Snowden revelations, net neutrality, Internet centralization & decentralization, Anonymous ops, Internet censorship and surveillance in China, Stuxnet, ransomware cyberattacks, Amazon as a business model, AI, virtual reality etc.) to analyze how cyberspace reshapes politics, societies, markets, communities, as well as political science as a discipline. You will gain a rigorous and sophisticated understanding of the relationship between technology and politics, and its various facets. The course will teach you how to develop expertise and design a research project on a topic of your choice: you will learn how to turn a general interest into a research question; how to read, summarize, and engage with relevant scholarship on the subject; and how to move from reading what others have to say about your topic of interest towards producing new knowledge of the kind that forms the basis for an original research paper or honors thesis. For students potentially interested in working towards a senior thesis, this seminar provides a much-needed analytical and methodological foundation. 

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Paul.

If Overenrolled: Priority to Political Science majors, seniors, and juniors.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021