The Power of Political Ideas

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 24, 2019 - July 12, 20196/24 - 7/12M-F 8:30A-11:20AOpenDouglas Blum

Course Description

This course gives students a chance to undertake a fascinating and highly challenging process of political and intellectual exploration. In addition to well-established far right- and left-wing ideas, you will be exposed to and asked to evaluate such ideologies as Nihilism, Radical Feminism, Radical Environmentalism, and even Radical Islam.

This will be an intense, deeply personal and highly intellectual experience, as you engage the passionate arguments of leading political thinkers and explore your own feelings about them. Here in America the two predominant ideological orientations are Liberalism and Conservatism, so it behooves us to understand both of them thoroughly. But elsewhere in the world, and at different moments in history, other ideas have had many supporters. What are Communism, Anarchism, and Fascism really about? Why have so many people been attracted to them, and could they stage a comeback at some point in the future? Or are there other, newer alternatives that could become more influential?

We will also analyze the historical (geopolitical and socio-economic) factors driving the rise and fall of various political systems, and project that pattern into the future. Have we pretty much reached the end of humanity's ideological evolution, or can we anticipate fundamental clashes and changes in the years ahead? In addressing these questions we will combine careful reading with reflective analysis, in order to learn about what really matters in the often unseen but pervasive politics of everyday life.

Prerequisites: None


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPS0926
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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