Department of Comparative Politics
Visiting scholar

Alan T. Wood at Comparative Politics

The history of China and the world and the natural evolution of Democracy are in prof. Alan T. Wood’s focus while visiting the Dep. of Comparative Politics.

Prof. Alan T. Wood outside the Department of Comparative Politics
Prof. Alan T. Wood utanfor Institutt for samanliknande politikk.
Kurt-Rune Bergset

Main content

Professor of History at the University of Washington Bothel, Alan T. Wood is visiting scholar at the Department of Comparative Politics during spring 2015. While he has two major long-term projects related to the history of China and the history of the World, his present focus and short-term project is a book tentatively entitled “The Arc of History Bends toward Democracy”.


- My overall focus is the sustainability of human civilization.  My interest probably originates from many years of wondering how Chinese civilization managed to create a system of governance that lasted for 2000 years and included one-quarter of the entire world’s population.


In the book on democracy, Wood will argue that democracy is not merely an accident of European history. Rather, it is the product of a natural evolution from simplicity to complexity that does the best job, in terms of human governance, of balancing the complementary opposites of integration and autonomy, unity and diversity, equality and freedom, top-down and bottom-up, cooperation and competition, etc.


- In the short-term, individual democracies may rise and fall for all kinds of specific historical and contingent reasons, but if one steps back to looks at larger units of time—say centuries—then there seems to be a growing trend toward more democracy as the technology of bottom-up communication becomes more developed and more widely available, and more effective in promoting transparency and accountability in politics. 


Research stay in Bergen

During his visit at the Department Wood also wish to learn as much as he can from the expertise of faculty and graduate students in areas of global governance in Bergen. 


- I have a lot to learn about how Norway has itself created a social and political system that seems to balance complementary opposites of equality and freedom much more effectively than in the United States, or contemporary China, for that matter, and how this model may be a source of inspiration to many other places in the world today who are struggling to create successful systems of governance.


If you are interested in learning more about Wood’s research projects, feel free to contact him on awood@uw.edu.