Political theory is the study of the concepts and principles that people use to describe, explain, and evaluate political events and institutions. Traditionally, the discipline of political theory has approached this study from two different perspectives: the history of political thought, and contemporary political philosophy. Princeton ’s political theory faculty has strength in both of these areas of the discipline, and indeed a number of faculty members actively work in both.
Major areas of research bringing together clusters of Princeton political theorists include democratic theory, international political theory, and aspects of the history of political thought. Princeton ’s theorists share a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research. Graduate students routinely take seminars in the Departments of Philosophy, Classics, Religion and History, and participate in activities at the University Center for Human Values. A number of Politics faculty enjoy affiliate status in these units, and Politics extends the same status to several outside faculty with strong profiles in political theory. The theorists also work closely with empiricists in other subfields of the department.
The Program in Political Philosophy offers graduate students the chance to do interdisciplinary work. It also sponsors colloquia that bring political philosophers to Princeton every two or three weeks throughout the academic year, enabling graduate students to meet scholars from across the field.
The University Center for Human Values offers a year-long lineup of speakers on themes of interest to political theorists, sponsors graduate prize fellowships that support advanced research by graduate students, and supports a post-doctoral research program that brings several political theorists to Princeton each year for one-year visits.