Designing Democracy: Participation

Section 1, Spring 23

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 7/8
Credits: 3
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • MW
  • 1000-1120
  • WB127
01/23/2023 04/26/2023
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

American democracy is under considerable stress. Persistent and growing gaps in participation, representation, and accountability have contributed to political marginalization, non-responsive government, and democratic instability. The Designing Democracy Project’s mission is to train the next generation of democracy innovators. To do so, the project will put students into leadership positions for thinking about, and solving, democracy’s problems. The project will be comprised of three course laboratories to run sequentially. The first laboratory to be taught in Spring 2022 will address problems of democratic participation, including low turnout and the participation gap between different groups of Americans. In the course laboratory, we will start by examining data on democratic participation in the United States. We will then turn to identifying a specific problem using the data and supplementing it with law, history, social science, and comparative materials. We will then seek to advance a novel remedy to the problem or supplement current proposed or enacted remedies to the problem. After developing a remedial framework for the problem, we will examine relevant case law to assess any potential constitutional or legal limits to the proposed remedy. We will also explore relevant social science scholarship that might provide clues about the potential effectiveness of the remedy and also propose ways to test the effectiveness of the remedy. We will then incorporate the remedy into model legislation and present the draft model legislation to state or federal legislators, their staffers, and/or policy makers focused on democracy. The model legislation will then be included in the Designing Democracy database.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will submit memoranda and model legislation proposals (directly to the instructor, not via EXPO).

Other Work
Students will make oral presentations.

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: Law and Regulation of the Political Process (LAW 7090) recommended but not required. Also, because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes: Background knowledge of democracy issues not required. All I ask for is enthusiasm and a desire to address defects that plague American democracy.

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Friday, April 21, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, April 30, 11:59 PM