What Is Government?
And to what extent is your voice heard by those in power?
Teaching Resources—Forms of Government: Introduction (including lesson plan with slides)
Higher Education Discussion Guide
Governments have been around for almost four thousand years. Throughout that time, they have shared the same central function: to lead and protect their people.
Despite that 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 remains largely unchecked. 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 those issues.
In this module, we will
- explore the different kinds of governments and the effects those systems have on the people under their care;
- dig into democracy's defining characteristics and explore the warning signs where democracy is under threat around the world; and
- investigate what makes for a successful revolution.