Not long ago, we took for granted that Western democratic political systems were superior to all others and would ultimately become ubiquitous. Now there are some who are not so sure. And so it is timely to address such fundamental questions as how have political systems evolved over the millennia and what factors contribute to success and failure. Our text will be Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2012). This brilliant, provocative analysis is the first volume of his widely acclaimed two-volume series. It ties together relevant economic, cultural, religious and hard-wired biological influences on the development of political institutions. Our broad historical and geographic sweep will encompass the emergence of tribal societies; the beginnings of state government in ancient China, India and the Middle East; Medieval advancements in the rule of law; and modern Western notions of political accountability leading to the American and French Revolutions. Weekly assignments average 40 pages. Each student is requested to lead one week’s discussion. No class on 11/22/18.