Carnegie Mellon University

The American Experiment: Unraveling the US Electoral System

Course Number: 84-354

In 2022, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer noted that Americans are participating in a democratic experiment that Thomas Jefferson launched with the Declaration of Independence. The same unique and improbable system outlined by the Framers of the Constitution continues to shape modern politics and guide how we select our political leaders - both positively and negatively. This course will explore the intricacies of the U.S. electoral system and trace its historical evolution. Through this process, students will gain a detailed understanding of the foundations of our current electoral system and the challenges it faces. Students will also be asked to engage thoughtfully with the system's strengths and weaknesses and consider potential reforms. Altogether, this course invites students to unravel the complexities of elections and appreciate their significance in the broader democratic experiment.

This course introduces students to cutting-edge research on elections in the United States. There are no formal prerequisites. However, some of the readings are technical and require an openness to the quantitative study of political science. The key ideas and lessons to take from the course will not be about technical issues. Instead, we will focus on substantive and conceptual insights about elections.

Academic Year: 2023-2024
Semester(s): Spring, Mini 4
Units: 6
Location(s): Pittsburgh

Spring 2024, Mini 4
Tuesday and Thursday
2:00-3:20 PM

Elective course for the following CMIST degrees:
BS in International Relations and Political Science
BS in Economics and Politics
Additional Major in International Relations and Political Science
Additional Major in Economics and Politics
Minor in International Relations and Political Science