Richard Samuel Deese

Faculty Research Fellow
Senior Lecturer, Social Sciences, College of General Studies

Democracy Beyond the Nation State

As climate change and other forms of environmental degradation become increasingly disruptive in this century, the democratic nations of the world will face heightened stress from extreme weather, flooding, droughts, mass migrations, and transnational terrorism. If democratic governments respond to these challenges by embracing nationalism and building barriers, they will weaken the universal principle of human rights upon which democracy is founded, thus eroding the strength of democracy within their own borders. Conversely, if democratic societies can create new forms of electoral representation beyond the boundaries of the nation state, they will be in a better position to face the global challenges of this century and beyond. For this reason, the idea of supranational democracy now requires serious consideration by scholars from across all disciplines. In response to this need, Richard Samuel Deese and Michael Holm will hold a conference titled “Democracy Beyond the Nation State” during the 2020-21 academic year at Boston University. They plan to bring together scholars from around the world, from such diverse fields as philosophy, law, history, political science, communications, and computer science, to assess the possibility of creating supranational democratic institutions in response to new environmental and social challenges that no nation can face alone.


BA, University of California, Berkeley; MA, University of Oregon; MA, Boston University; PhD, Boston University


Twentieth century world history, Cold War technologies, global environmentalism


Richard Samuel Deese’s current research explores 20th century U.S. environmentalism within a transnational context. His work has been published by Cambridge University Press, Agni, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Endeavour, MungBeing, New Times Los Angeles, and The Quarterly.

He grew up in Claremont, California. After earning his bachelor’s degree in history at UC Berkeley, he traveled to East Asia, where he taught English Composition at Nanjing University in China. He first came to Boston University to study poetry and then returned to earn his PhD in history in 2007.