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What Citizens does Democracy Need?

By Katharina Gerl, Jonathan Seim, Adis Selimi, Anna Soßdorf, Janna Schneider, and Alina Komorek

It is largely undisputed that citizens and their diverse engagement are necessary conditions for a successful democratic society. However, beyond this statement, there is considerable disagreement about what exactly follows from it. This concerns both the legal status of citizens and the practice of civic engagement. In this context, many fundamental questions are currently being debated in politics and academia: What demands does the idea of democracy place on the political system, on the one hand, and on citizens, on the other? What are the advantages and disadvantages of representative and direct democracy? Which (political) activities of citizens are essential for the success of democracy and why? What defines the status of a citizen, and to whom should it be granted in modern societies?

The teaching project "What Citizens Does Democracy Need?" funded within the framework of the Bürgeruniversität will address these and other questions during the winter semester of 2020/21. It consists of academic and public events and aims to take up the respective debates from philosophical and political science perspectives, enriching the societal discourse on the provision and illustration of scientific findings beyond the scope of the project. At the same time, the teaching project has an immediate added value for students of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program by imparting skills in science communication, transfer, and organization.

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