Skip to main content

Political Theory Program

The political theory subfield of the Vanderbilt Political Science department specializes in democratic puzzles, specifically those related to invisibility. Our scholarship complements work done in other subfields on race, ethnicity, gender, immigration, and other group-based politics to the extent that our colleagues understand these as puzzles of democracy and governance.

Graduate study in political theory at Vanderbilt has three major aims: to educate students broadly in the history of political thought; to help students develop expertise in the thought of particular theorists of their choosing; and to train students in contemporary debates in our field. Our faculty work in all three areas and are committed to helping students craft rigorous plans of study that integrate all three components in the interest of developing a research agenda that speaks to the core problems and questions that animate political theory and practice.

The particular strengths of our faculty include early modern and modern political thought, political economy, contemporary theories of justice and human rights, and feminist social and political theory. We embrace and support a range of methodological approaches to the study of political theory.

There is a vibrant interdisciplinary theory community at Vanderbilt, including members of the Philosophy Department, Economics Department and the Law and Divinity Schools. The Social and Political Thought workshop brings together scholars across fields on a regular basis to read and discuss cutting-edge work in our field. The Global Feminisms Collaborative is a Vanderbilt-based interdisciplinary research group in which graduate students and faculty explore theoretical and empirical questions of justice, and which links the Vanderbilt community to scholars and activists internationally. Email us if you want to know more about this group.

View a complete guide to graduate work in political theory at Vanderbilt.