Democracy Studies

View Democracy Studies web site

The goal of the democracy studies area (DMST) is to help students explore and critically examine the foundations, structures and purposes of diverse democratic institutions and practices in human experience. Democracy studies combines a unique appreciation of Maryland’s democratic roots at St. Mary’s City with contemporary social and political scholarship, to better understand the value of democratic practices to human functioning and the contribution of democratic practices to a society’s development. The primary goal of the program of study is to provide students with a deeper understanding of how democracies are established, instituted and improved.

Any student with an interest in pursuing the cross-disciplinary minor in democracy studies should consult with the study area coordinator or participating faculty member. Students are encouraged to declare their participation and intent to minor in the area as soon as possible, and no later than the end of the first week of the senior year.


To successfully complete the cross-disciplinary minor in democracy studies, a student must satisfy the following requirements, designed to provide the depth and breadth of knowledge consistent with the goals of the field:

  1. General College requirements
  2. All requirements in a major field of study
  3. At least 22 credit-hours in courses approved for democracy studies, with a grade of C- or higher, including:
    1. HIST 200 (U.S. History, 1776-1980) or HIST 276 (20th Century World) or POSC 262 (Introduction to Democratic Political Thought)
    2. Three 300-400 level courses from at least three different disciplines cross-listed in democracy studies (12 semester- hours).
    3. As part of a course of study, students must fulfill a senior Civic Engagement Seminar consisting of six credits. The seminar will consist of two credit-hours of DMST 490 in addition to concurrent enrollment in four additional credit-hours of independent study, internship, or directed research that involves participation in civic affairs. This may include, but is not exclusive to, work with or research on local, state, and federal government, Historic St. Mary’s City, grassroots organizing, public affairs, media, non-governmental organizations, and international affairs that provide a glimpse into the workings of democratic society. (Students who plan to study abroad may enroll in this course prior to study abroad or upon return, provided there is an action plan for the civic affairs component.) Students must receive permission from the instructor before registering for the seminar.

Courses taken for the minor should form a cohesive program and be selected in consultation with a faculty adviser from democracy studies.

A complete list of approved current offerings will appear in the online “Schedule of Classes.” Regularly offered approved courses in democracy studies include the following:

Political Science

Students may pursue a St. Mary’s Project in democracy studies with the permission of their major department and with the agreement of a participating faculty member in democracy studies. Project credit (eight hours) does not apply toward fulfillment of the requirements for the minor in democracy studies.


DMST 490. Seminar in Civic Engagement (2)

This course will provide students with an overview of the major issues of democratization. This two-credit course represents the capstone class for the minor in democracy studies. Concurrent with the class, students must be enrolled in four additional credits of independent study, internship, or directed research that involves participation in civic affairs. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

DMST 493/494. St. Mary’s Project in Democracy Studies (1-8E)

This project, which takes many forms, draws on and extends knowledge, skills of analysis and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. The student initiates the project, identifies an area to be explored, and proposes a method of inquiry appropriate to the topic. The project should include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which it is a contribution. It must be shared with the College community through posters, presentation, or other means. This course is repeatable up to eight credit-hours. Pre- or co-requisite: Approval of faculty mentor, democracy studies coordinator, and the department chair(s) of the student’s major.

DMST 199, 299, 399, 499. Independent Study (1-4E)

This course consists of an independent creative or research project designed by the student and supervised by a democracy studies faculty member. The nature of the project, the schedule for accomplishment, and the means of evaluation must be formalized in a learning contract prior to registration. (See “Independent Study” under “Academic Policies” section.)

DMST 398, 498. Off-Campus Internship (4-16E)

A variety of off-campus experiential learning opportunities can be arranged through the director of internships and study abroad. The off-campus internship is a individually designed experience that allows the student to explore the relationships between learning in the classroom and the practical application of knowledge in everyday work situations. Prerequisites: admission to the Internship Program and approval of the democracy studies coordinator. (See “Internships” under “Academic Policies” section.) Credit/No credit grading.