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Citizenship in the 21st Century

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Who is (or ought to be) included in citizenship? Who gets to decide? What responsibilities come with citizenship? Is citizenship analogous to being a friend, a family member, a business partner?

Students have class outside

What makes this course unique:

This seminar will address both the historical roots as well as the future of citizenship, especially as it comes under stress from populism, authoritarianism, climate change, and other challenges. Starting with Stanford’s fundamental standard, we ask how citizenship in a community needs to be constantly redefined and reinvigorated for each new era.

Course Description

Citizenship is not just what passport you hold or where you were born. Citizenship also means equal membership in a self-governing political community. We will explore some of the many debates about this ideal: How have people excluded from citizenship fought for, and sometimes won, inclusion? These debates have a long history, featuring in some of the earliest recorded philosophy and literature but also animating current political debates in the United States and elsewhere. This course satisfies the Ethical Reasoning or Social Inquiry Way (ER or SI).

Inside the Citizenship Seminar

Special Events:

Plenary session: expert roundtable on “Is democratic citizenship in crisis?” with Jonathan Holloway (Rutgers University, president),  Pamela Karlan (Stanford Law), and Condoleezza Rice (Stanford, Hoover), moderated by Josiah Ober (Stanford Classics and Political Science).

TAPS performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

In Citizenship in the 21st Century, you will read texts including:

  • Tracy K. Smith’s erasure poem “Declaration”
  • Plato’s Apology and Crito
  • Ken Liu's short story “Mono No Aware”


COLLEGE 102: Citizenship in the 21st Century is 3 units and meets 2x/week for 80 minutes. It satisfies Way-ER or Way-SI. See ExploreCourses for detailed schedule offerings (to be updated in mid-August).

Who's Teaching You?

In addition to all of our COLLEGE Teaching Fellows, faculty and affiliates from around the university will offer a Citizenship in the 21st Century seminar.

  • Lecturer
  • William H. Bonsall Professor of French and Professor, by courtesy, of History and of Political Science
  • George E. Osborne Professor of Law
  • Kenneth & Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law
  • Casual - Other Teaching Staff
  • Professor of Political Science, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and at the Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Professorship for the Dean of the School of Medicine, Professor of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery (OHNS) and, by courtesy, of Neurobiology and of Bioengineering
  • Assistant Professor of History
  • Vernon R. and Lysbeth Warren Anderson Dean of the School of H&S, The Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and Professor, by courtesy, of Political Science
  • Lecturer and Senior Advisor on Civic Education
  • Associate Professor of Geophysics, of Electrical Engineering and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Associate Professor of Religious Studies and, by courtesy, German Studies
  • Richard W. Lyman Professor of the Humanities and Professor, by courtesy, of Comparative Literature
  • Assistant Professor of Computer Science and of Electrical Engineering