Political Theory subfield

Our large theory faculty enables us to offer courses in the entire history of political thought: ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary. Faculty also have a strong interest in politics and literature, human rights, and feminist theory, among other topics.

We encourage students to do course work in related disciplines, including Philosophy, Theology, Economics, History, and English. Theory students also 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 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 articles 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, and books with university presses such as Cambridge and Chicago.

Political theory PhD’s from Notre Dame have won tenure-track appointments at Northern Illinois University, Pepperdine University, University of Richmond, University of Houston, Catholic University of America, Villanova University, Texas State University, College of the Holy Cross (Massachusetts), Concordia University (Montreal), Victoria University (New Zealand), University of Lethbridge (Alberta), University of Missouri, University of Newport, Assumption College, and University of Wisconsin (La Crosse).  They have gained term appointments at American University, the University of Louisville, Valparaiso University, Wake Forest University, Santa Clara University, and the Free University (Amsterdam). Postdoctoral fellowships have been won at Brown, Princeton, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, University of Wisconsin (Madison), and Villanova.


Specialty within Political Theory


Ruth Abbey

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



Eileen Hunt Botting

Her latest book is Wollstonecraft, Mill, and Women's Human Rights (Yale, 2016). She teaches graduate seminars on modern political theory, most recently on Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Wollstonecraft, Godwin, and Mary Shelley. Her broader research interests are human rights (including women's and children's rights), family/state relations, gender and politics, and literature and politics. Methodologically, she is interested in feminist, comparative, and international approaches to political theory and the history of political thought.



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

Ancient and Modern Political Theory, American Political Thought, Democratic Theory, Liberalism, 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.



Daniel Philpott Religion and global politics; transitional justice; reconciliation; ethics and international relations.



Ernesto Verdeja

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



Dana Villa

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



Catherine Zuckert,

Author of Plato's Philosophers and Machiavelli's Politics. Currently working on the search for self-knowledge.



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.