Governments have been around for almost four thousand years. Throughout this time, they have shared the same central function: to lead and protect their people.

But despite this similarity, governments do not all look or act the same way. In democracies, citizens make decisions, usually through representatives, whom they elect. In authoritarian governments, power is concentrated in the hands of the few—often one political party or even a single leader—and there are very few checks on that power. Many other countries combine elements from democratic and authoritarian models, resulting in governments that limit some freedoms and protect others.

In our global era, government leaders make decisions on today’s toughest challenges, like how to address climate change, terrorism, or a pandemic. Where your government lies on the spectrum between democracy and authoritarianism determines whether your voice and the voices of your fellow citizens are magnified or minimized on these issues.

In this module, we will

  • explore the different kinds of government that exist and the effects these systems have on the people under their care;
  • dig into the defining characteristics of democracy and explore the warning signs where democracy is under threat around the world; and
  • investigate what makes for a successful revolution, which can reshape the form of a country’s government.
Referenced Module