During the last three decades, the fall of military and one-party regimes and the rise of various forms of elected governments have brought about a sweeping transformation of the global political landscape. Among both political science theorists and democracy advocates, this transformation has provoked a lively debate about the causes of, and constraints on, transitions to political democracy. What are the conditions in which such transitions can occur? To what extent do they depend on structural factors such as economic development, and to what extent on political and institutional behaviors that can be more directly shaped by political actors? To what extent is stable democracy contingent on the prior establishment of effective underlying governance structures, and to what extent is democracy itself a precondition of good governance? The purpose of this course is to introduce students to alternative analytic perspectives on such issues. It draws both on the work of academic political scientists and on the more “applied” analysis of politically-engaged democracy advocates.