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Learn about democracy with online courses and programs

Democracy gives the people within a society a say in how their government operates. Elections and other voting processes uphold equality, freedom, and representation in a democracy. Explore this political system with courses delivered by edX.

What is democracy?

Democracy is a form of government in which the people hold the power. This is exhibited through various decision-making processes, such as elections, assemblies, and legislative referendums. There are many different types of democracies, and a country may employ one or a mix of them in their style of government. Some of these are:

  • Direct democracy: All citizens play a direct role in the decision-making process.

  • Representative democracy: Representatives are elected by citizens who then make decisions on behalf of their constituents.

  • Parliamentary democracy: A prime minister is elected by parliament, who leads the executive branch of government.

  • Constitutional democracy: Citizens’ rights are protected by a constitution that ensures proper government oversight.

By gaining an understanding of democracy, how it works, and who it serves, you can develop important knowledge applicable to a variety of careers in government and diplomacy. Get started with courses on edX.

Democracy | Introduction Image

Democracy course curriculum

edX offers a wide range of courses aimed at exploring democracy and other forms of government around the world. These courses are designed to help you learn in an engaging and effective online environment.

Democracy can manifest itself in many ways. Learners who want to learn about the foundations of democracy and its applications through history can start with beginner-level courses, which may cover:

  • Political, social, cultural, economic, institutional, and international factors that foster and obstruct the development and consolidation of democracy.

  • Various theories about democratic development as applied to different countries or regions.

  • Elements of liberal democracy and the social, economic, and cultural conditions necessary to sustain it.

  • International policies and practices that have been successful in supporting democracy from abroad.

From there, you might decide to take a course that discusses democracy within the context of a specific country or region, like America or Europe. Or, you may opt to go back in time and explore the history of democracy to help you understand its underpinnings and evolutions.

edX offers online courses that allow learners to study a variety of topics including democracy, politics, and much more. ‌Sign up for an accelerated boot camp or enroll in a full degree program and start working toward a bachelor's degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You can also explore executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals.

Explore jobs related to democracy

Knowledge of political systems like democracy can be useful for professionals in many roles. Many of these will be related to government, compliance, policy-making, nonprofit work, and similar fields. Some of the roles you can pursue with additional relevant skills include:

  • Political scientist: Conducts research effects of political decisions and ideas, which can help in policy development and related activities.Footnote 1

  • Governor: Serves as a liaison between their state’s constituents and the federal government.Footnote 2

  • Lobbyist: Advocates for particular groups or organizations as a means of influencing government decisions.Footnote 3

  • Nonprofit director: Oversees organizational operations and strategy, which may require knowledge of democracy and general governmental practices.Footnote 4

  • Legislative assistant: Aids in the development of legislation and government policy.Footnote 5

While many of these roles exist within the government, employment qualifications for careers that use democratic knowledge can differ based on the position and employer. Some roles may require a higher level degree, while others may ask for a demonstration of skills that can be acquired through work experience. Before deciding on which learning path will work best for you, research potential roles you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your professional aspirations.

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