Is there a crisis of liberal democracy? Following decades of expansion, global freedom is on the decline.  New research shows public support for democracy declining, especially among younger generations in Western countries. And by most measures and definitions, there are now about 25 fewer democratic countries than there were at the turn of the millennium.

Meanwhile, nationalism has been enjoying a striking revival—from the Brexit vote in Great Britain, to the election of Donald Trump in the United States, to the appearance of populist anti-EU movements and governments in the nations of the European perimeter.

In this two-week seminar, students will examine the relationship between liberal democracy and nationalism. Why have freedom and democracy been regressing in many countries? Is nationalism a source of unity or disunity? Can we find a synthesis between liberalism and nationalism?

Over the first week, students will reflect on the meaning and practice of liberal democracy—with a view toward understanding the prospects for democracy today and in the future. Over the second, students will explore the ancient roots of nationalism and assess its utility in contemporary politics.

Diana Schaub on love, friendship, & justice


Diana Schaub

Diana J. Schaub is Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Maryland and a member of the Hoover Institution’s task force on The Virtues of a Free Society. From 2004 to 2009 she was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.

Richard M. Reinsch II

Richard M. Reinsch II is the founding editor of Liberty Fund’s online journal Law and Liberty and the host of LibertyLawTalk. He writes frequently for such publications as National Affairs, Modern Age, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, and The University Bookman, among other publications.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session



Discussion Questions:

  1. What does nationalism provide politically to a people?
  2. What are pre-political loyalties? Does nationalism foster and preserve these? Should it?
  3. Does it bind disparate families, groups, and peoples together in a manner superior to other political forms?

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