Exploring American Democracy WEA Sydney

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Available Classes

Explore the development of democracy in the United States from its inception based on eighteenth century Enlightenment philosophy, through its rapid expansion to its role as the world’s first superpower. We examine such hurdles as the War of Independence, the Civil War and the Cold War, the role of Senate and the President and the impact of such presidents as Lincoln, Nixon, Reagan and Trump.


  • Face-to-Face / Online


  • The philosophical basis of the American system of government, the rapid expansion of the United States in the 19th century and the influence this had on how Americans saw themselves, their destiny and their role in the world
  • The challenges of the Cold War and America’s role as the world’s first superpower, and an in-depth analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Reagan, the neo-cons and the end of the USSR; the post-Cold War period and America’s struggle to define a new role
  • The Trump ‘movement’ and its parallels to 19th century Jacksonian democracy; the 2016 and 2020 Presidential elections and their aftermath


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Explain the theoretical and philosophical basis of the US Constitution and the system of government established under it
  2. Detail the driving principles of US foreign policy from the Monroe Doctrine to the post-Cold War period
  3. Place President Trump in an historical context

Sonya Thompson

Sonya Thompson, MA, MALP, has taught in the subject areas of history and politics for over thirty years, much of that time with the WEA. Sonya holds postgraduate degrees in history, law and...