Political Theory subfield

Our large theory faculty enables us to offer courses in the entire history of political thought: ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary. We also have strong offerings in politics and literature.

We encourage students to do course work in related disciplines, including Philosophy, Theology, Economics, History, and English. Theory students have access to the faculty and fellows associated with special centers located on campus including the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for the Study of Philosophy of Religion, the Center for Ethics and Culture, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the Medieval Institute, the Nanovic Center for European Studies, and the Center for Civil & Human Rights in the Law School.

In recent years we have attracted graduate students from a variety of institutions, including Yale, Princeton, Carleton College, Duke, Georgetown, Boston College, Holy Cross, Kenyon, St. John's College in Annapolis, Marquette, Middlebury, University College Dublin, London School of Economics, the University of Leyden, the University of Calgary, the University of Winnipeg, and Carleton University in Canada.

Our students have written dissertations on a diverse range of topics such as friendship in political thought; ethical integrity and democratic citizenship; patriotism in a cosmopolitan age; Rousseau on commerce and mores; love and the passions in Augustine’s political thought; the life of the mind in Hannah Arendt; natural law, natural right, and the problem of natural justice; Montesquieu on law and morals; theories of immigration; the family in political life; and Plato's CratylusRepublicLaws, and Statesman.

Graduate students in our program have published in top journals such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and History of Political Thought.

Political theory PhD’s from Notre Dame have won tenure-track appointments at Pepperdine University, University of Richmond, University of Houston, Catholic University of America, Villanova University, University of Lethbridge (Alberta), Western Michigan University, and California State University at Sacramento.  They have gained term appointments at American University, Northern Illinois University, the University of Louisville, Valparaiso University, Wake Forest University, and the Free University (Amsterdam). Postdoctoral fellowships have been won at Brown, Princeton, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, and Villanova.



Specialty within Political Theory


Ruth Abbey

Friedrich Nietzsche; Charles Taylor; contemporary feminism; contemporary liberalism.



Eileen Hunt Botting

Author of Family Feuds: Wollstonecraft, Burke, and Rousseau on the Transformation of the Family and teaches seminars on early modern thought and on gender and human development.



Susan Collins

Ancient Political Philosophy and the history of political thought.  Author of Aristotle and the Rediscovery of Citizenship and translator of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Currently working on the ancient view of political founding, the regime, and Classical Sparta.



Patrick Deneen

American Political Thought, Democratic Theory, Religion and Politics, Constitutional Leadership



Vittorio Hösle

Author of twelve books on such varied topics as Greek tragedy, Vico, Hegel, environmental ethics and political morality, and teaches a range of seminars including Kant, Hegel and Vico.



Mary M. Keys

Virtue and law in the history of political philosophy; Augustine; Thomas Aquinas; medieval and early modern political thought. Author of Aquinas, Aristotle, and the Promise of the Common Good.



Vincent Phillip Muñoz

American political thought, liberal political theory, constitutionalism and the rule of law. Author of God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson.



Walter Nicgorski, Emeritus

Cicero, Yves Simon, and liberal and character education; offers graduate seminars on Cicero and the Romans as well as on 20th Century political thought.



Ernesto Verdeja

Political violence; transitional justice and reconciliation; contemporary critical and democratic theory.



Dana Villa

Hannah Arendt and teaches seminars in continental and critical political thought.



Catherine Zuckert

Author of Plato’s Philosophers, currently working on Machiavelli and his modern legacy.  Also teaches politics and literature.



Michael Zuckert

Liberal political theory, including American political thought. Author of The Natural Rights Republic; currently working particularly on the theory and design of constitutional government.



Daniel Philpott

Religion and global politics; transitional justice; reconciliation; ethics and international relations




Field Expectations for Second-Year and Third-Year Reviews.