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Political Theory Institute


Political Theory Institute

Political Theory Institute
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016

Activities and Events

Political Theory Colloquium Lecture Series

The Washington, D.C. Political Theory Colloquium, Founded by Alan Levine 15 years ago, brings noted speakers to campus each semester. A good lecture series gives a focal point for a community and provides a real sense of intellectual excitement. It allows the community to engage in a common conversation in addition to the conversations in each particular class.

Janus Forum Student Society

PTI sponsors a series of student-run debates through its Janus Forum Student Society. Janus, the god who looked two ways, is the symbol for this debate society. The Janus Forum invites to campus prominent intellectuals with distinctly different points of view to debate a topic. Other debates will be led by AU faculty or AU students. Every student club on campus that deals with moral and political questions may have a member on the Janus Forum Student Society Board.

The first Janus Forum debate will be held Tuesday, January 31 from 7:30-8:30 pm (Location TBD). It will be led by the Janus Forum Student Steering Committee Leaders on the topic, "Is David Brooks' critique of American education accurate? If so, what remedies exist?"

The second Janus Forum debate will be held Wednesday, February 29th from 9:00-10:00 pm (KSB T-59). It will be led by the Janus Forum Student Steering Committee Leaders on the topic: "Is Progressivism good?" Readings will be "What is Constitutional Conservatism?" and FDR's "Economic Bill of Rights"

Janus Forum Student Steering Committee 2011-2012
Timothy (T.J.) Whittle, Chair,
Michael Turchetti, Vice Chair,
Dan Lewis,
Kevin Ralph,
Carlos Sanabria,

Inaugural Janus Forum Debate

"Are the Benefits of American Global Leadership Worth the Price?" featuring Robert Kagan, Brookings, and Christopher Preble, CATO

Monday, April 23     
8:00 pm
Butler Board Room

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a monthly columnist for the Washington Post. His publications include Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century (2006), which won the 2008 Lepgold Prize and was a 2007 Finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize; Of Paradise and Power (2003), which was on The New York Times and the Washington Post bestseller lists; The Return of History and the End of Dreams (2008), and, most recently, The World America Made (2012). he served in the State Department from 1984 to 1988 as a member of the policy planning staff, principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, and he today serves as a member of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs Policy Board and is co-chariman of the bipartisan Working Group on Egypt. Kagan is also a contributing editor at both the Weekly Standard and The New Republic. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and holds a Ph.D. in history from American University. 

Christopher A. Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. His latest book is The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free (2009). He is also the author of John F. Kennedy and the Missile Gap (2004). Preble is the lead author of Exiting Iraq: How the U.S. Must End the Occupation and Renew the War Against Al Qaeda (2004); and he co-edited Terrorizing Ourselves: Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy is Failing and how to Fix It (2010). In addition to his books, Preble has published more than 150 articles in major publications including USA Today, Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, National Review, The National Interest, the Harvard International Review, and Foreign Policy. He is a frequent guest on television and radio. Before joining Cato in February 2003, he taught history at St. Cloud State University and Temple University. Preble was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, and served onboard USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) from 1990-1993. Preble holds a Ph.D. in history from Temple University.

$500 Prize for Best Undergraduate Essay on Classical Liberalism

The Political Theory Institute is proud to announce its annual essay contest for the best student essay on classical liberalism. The winner of the contest will be awarded a prize of $500 at the annual SPA Awards Ceremony on Monday, April 30, 2012 from 1-3pm. 
The contest is open to all AU undergraduates and is intended to foster critical reflection on the key authors, concepts, and arguments of classical liberalism, including but not limited to individual liberty, equality, democracy, constitutionalism, and commerce. As used here, classical liberalism denotes a topic, not an agenda, and the prize will be given to the most intelligent and well-argued essay on these topics regardless of philosophical or political perspective. Essays about the place of classical liberalism in the American political tradition are welcome. 
Submissions can be, but need not have been, written for a class and should be between five and twenty pages (double spaced, twelve point font, one inch margins). Include your name, email, and phone number on page one of your submission. Essays may be nominated by either the author or a faculty member. 
Submissions (two individually stapled copies) must be received in the office of Professor Alan Levine (Ward 220) by noon on Monday, April 23rd.
Inquiries or questions may be directed to Professor Alan Levine or Professor G. Borden Flanagan