January Term

Featured Hybrid Course

Occupy Democracy:
Radical/Participatory Democracy
in Theory & Practice (POLT 584)

December 27 - January 6: course 100% online

January 7, 8, 9, 10: meet at Camp Merrowvista, Tuftonboro, NH

January 11-17: course continues 100% online

CRN: 30064, Credits 4.0

Instructor Bio: Marla Brettschneider, Ph.D.

Occupy Wall Street spread excitement around the globe and raised serious questions about options for sustainable democratic change. What often passes for modern democracy usually bears little resemblance to the grand ideas of theorists and activists over the millennia. Let’s challenge ourselves to learn about fundamental and sustainable democratic social transformation and experiment in LIVING IT. What can we come up with ourselves in our own unique “class” environment? This course features online study plus a retreat at Camp Merrowvista in Tuftonboro, NH. Bring your musical instruments, favorite texts, and a willingness to explore! Camp Merrowvista is 1 hour north of campus at an eco-educational, experiential learning site where we will LITERALLY practice the core ideas of radical/sustainable democracy. A special team of camp leaders will help us take the academic frameworks of democratic theory and translate them into activities in order to test, live out, and experiment with the key concepts.

Camp Merrowvista is an eco-educational, experiential learning site one hour north of the Durham campus. The camp’s leaders will help you take the academic concepts of democratic theory and translate them into activities in order to test, live out, and experiment with the concepts.

This course has a $35 non-refundable application fee.


Questions for Marla Brettschneider, Ph.D

What most interested you about this subject matter?

Most interesting is that people think they know what democracy is, but once you start to look at it closely, my classes usually rock the students’ world (in good ways!) challenging their most basic assumptions, getting them to think about things they didn’t even know there were to think about. A good critical look at democracy empowers us to become critical thinkers and in the process much more engaged citizens. By taking democracy seriously I also always then expect students to work on SITUATING THEMSELVES and taking their own selves as citizens/activists seriously. In the case of this class this last part gets a HUGE boost, by putting ourselves out there in person in this eco-ed, experiential learning center together as part of the academic/theoretical study.

Do you have a philosophy about learning?

My philosophy is embedded in my response above as my content and pedagogy are always connected. Deep, meaningful, high level learning in political theory and how to do this, as I teach the skills to do so along with the content—enables deeper, higher level and critical thinking. It requires students to explore what is meaningful and important to them as they also learn subject matter, thus it empowers students in their personal lives as well as their student and work worlds, and of course makes for better, more active and engaged critical thinking citizens.