Program Details

Democracy on Film: How Movies Provide Insight into the Dilemmas of Current Political Debate - Boca Raton

Burton Atkins
Video Catch-up

Course Description

To be effective and survive, societies that define themselves as a democracy must inevitably make critical assumptions about both the strength and character of their people and the constitutional structure of their political institutions. In some respects, then, democracy is a fragile system of government. But, as many commentators have observed, an ever-increasing lack of civility and decency in contemporary political debate threatens to undermine the foundation and fabric of democracy in the United States. With the foundations of democracy being threatened by this diminished civility, it is particularly timely to examine and remind ourselves about the foundations of democratic governance. Using clips from films such as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and "Seven Days in May," the lecture will examine the sources of threats to American democracy and how our constitutional and political system can respond to such challenges.

About the Instructor

  • Burton Atkins, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of political science at Florida State University (FSU). Currently, he teaches political science at FAU. In his 35-year career at FSU, Atkins taught a variety of courses on and wrote extensively about constitutional law and U.S. politics and served as chair of the political science department. He lived in London from 1992 to 1997 while serving as the director of FSU's London Study Center, and from 1997 until his retirement in 2006, he served as director of the FSU International Affairs Program.