Wang Center for Global EducationStudent Opportunities

Democracy in Theory and in Practice

Course Description:

The central purpose of the course is to introduce students to democratic theory and practice.  By locating it in Washington DC, students will be able to engage with the practice of American democracy first-hand and at its highest level.  In the course, they will observe key democratic processes and interview key democratic players in all three branches of government.  And this, in turn, will uniquely enable students to determine which and how well abstract democratic theories are realized in our concrete practices.

Faculty Leader
Dr. Kaitlyn Sill, Assistant Professor of Political Science
253-535-8257, or
Dr. Michael Schleeter, Assistant Professor of Philosophy,
Specifically, students will visit the White House, watch debates in the US Congress, attend oral arguments before the US Supreme Court, and tour various bureaucratic agencies including the FDA, US Mint, and OSHA.  Further, in January 2013, they will witness a presidential inauguration, which exemplifies a distinctive potentiality of a democratic society: the peaceful transfer of power from one elected leader to another.

Course Highlights:

  • Inauguration
  • Visit to Congressional Chambers
  • Visit to Supreme Court
  • Interviews with Lobbyists and Other Actors
  • World Bank
  • Smithsonian's
  • Monuments
  • Jamestown

Course Objectives:

  • Learn Theories of Democracy
  • Explore the Function of American Democracy through Experiential Learning
  • Evaluate the Applicability of Democracy Theory to the United States
  • Proscribe Systemic Changes

Course Credit:

POLS 287 / PHIL 228 (4 credits). General Education (PH), Political Science elective. Philosophy elective.

Program Fee:

$2,700. Includes airfare, lodging in a residence inn with kitchens, rail pass, program-related excursions and entrance fees, breakfast included with lodging.

These estimated additional costs indicated below are intended to assist students and parents in budgeting for those additional living and discretionary expenses not included in the program fee.  Actual expenses may vary according to student interests, individual needs, and spending habits:

  • Pre-travel evaluation at the PLU Health Center = $45 *All students are required to visit either the PLU Health Center or a personal healthcare provider to achieve the proper medical clearance.  Be aware that other medical providers may charge additional fees that may result in a higher cost than the PLU Health Center.
  • Immunizations = $0 to several hundred dollars **Vaccination needs vary on destination and individual medical history, and may be costly.
  • Airline baggage fees = approximately $25 for each checked bag
  • Books, supplies, course materials = varies
  • Cell phone and cell usage = varies
  • Personal Expenses = approximately $600. Check with your faculty leader for an accurate estimate for your destination.

Application Deadline:

April 13, 2012. A non-refundable deposit of $50.00 is required with the application. A $250 non-refundable program payment to confirm participation in the course is due within 10 days of notification of acceptance. Maximum 20 students.