Democracy Initiative Graduate Seminar

Graduate Seminar: Democracy, War, Violence

NOTE: Applications for this seminar are now closed.

Fall 2020 + Spring 2021.

DEM 7000/DEM 7001

Democracies have a contradictory relationship to violence and war: they simultaneously claim to aspire to peace and justify novel practices of violence, both at home and abroad. The inaugural Democracy Initiative Graduate Seminar will explore this double play of democratic peace and democratic war from a comparative, interdisciplinary perspective. Possible themes will reflect accepted students’ interests, and may include theories of democratic peace, citizen-soldiering and people’s wars, colonial war, states of emergency, gendered violence in wartime, nuclear and drone warfare, policies regarding veterans and refugees, urban policing and border control, the slow violence of environmental damage, metaphors of “war” in domestic policymaking, and representations and commemorations of war.

The DI Seminar will provide a unique learning experience that combines interdisciplinary inquiry with diverse forms of scholarly engagement, opportunities to interact with distinguished guests, both academics and community leaders, from on and off-Grounds. The fall semester will be devoted to readings that explore critical, conceptual, and methodological problems on the seminar theme. In the spring, participants will undertake individual research projects that advance their particular intellectual and professional interests. Projects may take any form, whether traditionally academic or public-facing, to be determined individually in consultation with participants’ advisors and the seminar directors. The year will culminate in a public presentation of these projects.

Graduate students from all programs are welcome to apply. To apply, please send a brief proposal (of no more than one page) to Christine Linsinbigler ( outlining your interest in the seminar’s themes and research plans by April 10. Students selected to participate in the seminar will enroll in DEM 7000 (3 credits) in the fall semester and DEM 7001 in the spring semester (3 credits) and be designated DI Seminar Graduate Fellows for the year. Each student will receive a stipend of $500 to support research related to their seminar work.

Please direct any questions to Professors Murad Idris ( and Jennifer Sessions (