Course Syllabus

Political Extremism and Threats to Democracy DIS Logo


Semester &  Location 

 Summer 2022, Session 3 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Summer Course: 4 credits

Study Tour


Major Disciplines:

Political Science, International Relations   

Faculty Members:

Steve Turner (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Academic Support: 
Program Director Neringa Vendelbo, 
Time & Place:

Monday-Friday   9:00-12:30

Classroom: 1E-510


Course Description

Course Description:

The dramatic surge in polarization and populism is arguably the most important political development of the 21st century. This course takes a comparative approach in examining the causes, consequences, and potential policy responses to growing political extremism. We focus on the similarities – as well as the differences – between developments in the United States and selected nations in the European Union, including Hungary and Sweden. By developing a greater understanding of the challenges to democracy, we bolster our capacity to formulate effective policy responses.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the main factors – social, political, and economic - that have contributed to the global surge in populism
  • Gain insight into the similarities – as well as differences – in the nature of political extremism in the United States and selected countries within the European Union
  • Develop a degree of expertise in the distinctive characteristics of populism in Sweden 
  • Analyze the process by which support for populism can undermine the foundations of democracy
  • Explore a variety of policy options for responding to populism and restoring support for liberal democracy
  • To develop and improve a number of  of essential skills – in analytical thinking and in both oral and written presentation - that are vital not only in navigating political studies, but in flourishing in the game of life.


Faculty Member

Steve Turner

DIS Stockholm Faculty

M.A. in Political Sociology, Harvard University. Extensive teaching experience in comparative politics, globalization, the welfare state, and multiculturalism. Works as a Leadership Consultant, bringing the lessons from modern psychology and neuroscience to the world of business. Also an avid squash player and kayaker. With DIS since 2016.



Reading for the course is based primarily on two books:

  • Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. (Penguin Books, 2012)
  • Roger Eatwell and Mathew Goodwin. National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy. (Penguin Books, 2018)
  • In addition to these books, the course literature includes a number of videos and articles.  Specific assignments can be seen in the course calendar.

Field studies

  1. The Swedish Riksdag (Parliament)
  2. To be announced

Approach to Teaching

My approach to teaching is based on a core assumption: Learning is a collective endeavour in which the contribution of each individual has an impact on how much is learned overall. Lectures can serve a valuable purpose both in providing useful information and in stimulating creative thought. But genuine learning takes place only when the student takes an active role –in reading carefully, thinking critically, in raising questions and objections, and in listening to others. It is only through engaged dialogue that we have the capacity to enrich our understanding of the world. My expectation is that students will actively engage in the learning process, both inside and outside the classroom.   

The course utilizes a variety of pedagogical methods, including lectures, discussions, student presentations,  and study visits. There is a strong emphasis on discussion and student participation. Everyone is expected to not only complete the readings for each class, but to come to class well prepared to engage in discussion.

Attendance at all lectures and field studies is mandatory.

Note that it is important to check your e-mail and DIS Canvas regularly since presentations, exam info etc. will be distributed here.





Pre-class Prep * 


 Classroom Engagement 


Take Home Exam


 *  Pre-class prep is based on Canvas Quizzes - which are assigned several times each week.  Please note that your grade here will not include the results for two quizzes with the lowest results. 

    - Classroom Engagement is based on attendance and your participation in discussions.  Attending class is equal to a grade of 80/100.  Active participation can raise your grade to 88 or 94.

To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all the assigned work.

More information on the assignments, requirements and deadlines will be available on DIS Canvas.


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due