Freshman Seminar 71O 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment: Limited to 12
Across the world, massive street protests and growing disdain for politics not only suggest high citizen dissatisfaction with politicians’ performance—from poor public services, high corruption, and increasing crime—but highlight the difficulty of holding politicians accountable to the voters who put them in office. Democracies are designed with certain mechanisms to generate political accountability. Re-elections are meant to give voters a tool to reward or punish incumbents for their behavior in office, government oversight agencies like auditing institutions are intended to police politicians from within, and so on. Despite this range of methods for keeping politicians accountable, why is there still so much corruption and impunity within government? Why don’t politicians provide the policies and public services people seem to want? What are the barriers citizens and civil society face in engaging in politics? What can we learn from citizen efforts to reign in politicians even within authoritarian regimes? Most importantly, what policies could we implement to reduce impunity and strengthen accountability?