Governance and Society

Governance and society courses address the role of governments and the behaviors of individuals and societies, both normal and abnormal. Subtopics include international relations, policy, criminology, and racial and ethnic relations.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Governance and Society

  • Governance, broadly defined, refers to the ways in which society or groups within it organize to make decisions. Thus, while the word “governance” naturally brings to mind “the government,” this concept extends beyond politics to encompass groups of people of any size working together to achieve a collective goal. Understanding how these systems work and knowing how to make your voice heard within them is important for everyone, whether you’re looking to pursue a career in politics or management - or if you just want to be a good citizen.

    At scales ranging from a high school chess club to the United States to the United Nations, systems of governance include several key elements: mechanisms for establishing authority, processes for decision-making, and means of enforcing accountability to ensure that these collective decisions are followed.

    For example, in the United States, it’s easy enough to simply say that we live in a democracy. But the way that votes are aggregated at the local, state, and national levels, the rules by which our elected representatives make laws, and the different ways that laws are enforced are all critical factors in determining the outcomes produced by America’s system of governance compared to other democracies.

    Studying this discipline is all about understanding the importance of these details, as well as how these intertwined elements interact. Having expertise in governance lets you draw connections between how campaigns are financed and how candidates govern, helping to inform your decisions as a voter, as a contributor to political campaigns, or as a political professional yourself. It can also help you anticipate how the structure and the members of your board of directors can determine the course of your company, providing crucial insights to guide the development of your startup as an entrepreneur.