Post-Secondary Foundation Course on Democracy

Objectives:

In 1998 when the Democracy Education Project (DEP) was launched

  • No state or national university had a general introductory course on liberal democracy and only two per cent had any kind of course on democratic governance
  • Less than five per cent of faculty in universities had had any training that would equip them to teach courses on the study of democracy

Under the DEP, a foundation course on democracy was created for Ukrainian universities by a team of Ukrainian and Canadian professors. To support delivery of the course, a joint Ukrainian-Canadian Editorial Board published a 680-page textbook, Osnovii Demokrati (Fundamentals of Democracy). To prepare instructors to teach the new course, the DEP ran a series of professional development seminars in which 127 professors participated.

One of the primary objectives of the Building Democracy Project has been to secure the country-wide delivery of this course.

It set three objectives.

1. To assess lessons learned from delivery of the course and make whatever adjustments might be deemed necessary to increase its effectiveness through revision of the curriculum
 
2. To produce a new edition of the textbook to support delivery of the revised curriculum

3. To increase the number of instructors trained to deliver the course

 

Progress:

A workshop for instructors who had taught the course met in May, 2004, to discuss improvements. The recommendations of the workshop were incorporated by the Editorial Board responsible for production of the new edition of Osnovii Demokrati in the design of a revised curriculum for the course.

The Editorial Board then developed a new design for the textbook and commissioned authors to write it. The draft manuscript went through several iterations before its completion. Several new subjects were introduced, changes were made to account for events such as the Orange Revolution, and new data were introduced. The Ministry approved the draft of the new text in the fall of 2008 and final revisions were completed by the Spring of 2009.

The new textbook was published in November 2009 and is now in use. Although it bears the same title as the first text it is an entirely new book which is reflected in the fact that it is 50 per cent longer than the original text.

Seven professional development seminars were held from 2004 to 2008 to increase the number of instructors equipped to deliver the course. Including those trained during the first phase, the Project has now provided 407 professors with the enhanced knowledge and skills required to teach the foundation course.

Currently, 120 universities are teaching courses using or based on the Fundamentals of Democracy.