At the Harris School I am teaching a course on Authoritarian Politics. The goal of the course is to provide an understanding of undemocratic regimes - something that more than one half of the world's population is forced to content with. We start by looking at how authoritarian regimes differ from democracy and also from each other, proceeding to examine the threats that autocrats face, and the measures they take to maintain their rule, such as building or dismantling institutions, distributing patronage, hiring the right subordinates, manipulating public opinion, rigging elections, and suppressing dissent. Other actors, including opposition, face their own problems when contending with, or challenging, autocratic rule. We proceed to look at the ways in and out of the autocracies - how democratic rule becomes subverted, and how it is reestablished. We examine the impact of authoritarianism on economy and foreign policy, as well as on values, cooperation, and the fabric of the society, and whether and how these effects persist and reinforce authoritarian rule. Finally, we will look at the effect of technological change on the evolution of autocracies, as it can both empower citizens of autocracies, and strengthen autocratic control over them.
During my time at the Higher School of Economics, I accumulated extensive teaching experience. I have regularly taught Political Economy and Game Theory at an advanced undergraduate level. The lecture notes I developed for the Game Theory course eventually were published as a textbook (Zakharov, 2015), with the second corrected edition published in 2019. At the time of its publication, this book was the sole game theory text published in the Russian language with examples from contemporary economic and political theory.
As with my research, these classes combine insights from multiple disciplines to understand why democracy is under threat throughout the world and how citizens, NGOs, and governments are responding to these threats. My political economy class also focuses on globalization, growing inequality, and their impact on local economies. To my instruction I bring over 10 years of on-the-ground experience with Russian civic and political initiatives such as election monitoring, street protests, and opposition campaigns. This aids me in understanding and explaining how autocracies function and where threats to democracy lie.
A. Zakharov. 2015. Game Theory in Social Sciences. HSE Publishing House. (In Russian)