This is a course about fundamental problems of participation, democratic governance, and conflict in contemporary political systems. It will provide students with an analytical toolkit for understanding and acting on the political dimensions of policy problems. The G and H sections consider these questions primarily through the prism of American political institutions and the context they create for policymaking. The I and J sections look at systematic variations across different sorts of political institutions in both advanced and developing democracies, as well as in countries that are not democracies. The class develops the skills for effective political analysis and advocacy, including memo- and op-ed writing, as well as the skills to brief actors who need to know everything about the politics of a situation in a short period of time.