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Political Theory Institute


Political Theory Institute

Political Theory Institute
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016

Welcome to PTI

The mission of the Political Theory Institute (PTI) is to encourage the serious study of the great questions of political theory and to bring the insights of political theorists to bear on current issues and events.

Mission Statement

Undergraduate Essay Contest

The Political Theory Institute is now accepting submissions for its 2017 Undergraduate Essay Contest.

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Fall 2017 Lectures

Tuesday, September 19, Constitution Day Lecture

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Gregory Weiner, Assumption College, "Defining Decency Down: Free Speech and the American Campus"

Tuesday, October 3

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Ruth Abbey, University of Notre Dame, "A Good Man is Hard to Find: Men and Manliness in the Vindication of the Rights of Men"

Tuesday, October 24

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Christopher Lynch, Carthage College, "Machiavelli's Philosophical Denigration of Philosophy"

Friday, November 3

Hughes Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Robert Bartlett, Boston College, "On Getting Lucky: Political Philosophy and the Problem of Chance"

Friday, December 1

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Ryan Hanley, Marquette University, "Adam Smith: From Love to Sympathy"

Spring 2017 Lectures

Tuesday, February 21

Hughes Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
Peter C. Myers, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, "Extremism in the Defense of Liberty: Martin Luther King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail'"

Thursday, March 9

Mary Graydon Center, Room 245, 5:30-7:00 PM
Michael James, Bucknell University, "Democratic Legitimacy and Border Enforcement"

Wednesday, March 22

Mary Graydon Center, Room 247, 5:30-7:00 PM
Michael Weinman, Bard College Berlin, "Arendt and the Legitimate Expectation for Hospitality Today"

Tuesday, April 4

Hughes Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
William Galston, Brookings Institution, "Class Politics and Status Politics: Where do the Democrats go from here?"

Monday, April 24

Letts Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
Jacob T. Levy, McGill University, "Of Sanctuaries and Safe Spaces: Universities as Associations"

Fall 2016 Lectures

Tuesday, September 27th

Mary Graydon Center, Room 2, 5:30-7:00 PM
Robert Goldberg, "On the Opposition of Law and Liberal Education in Plato's Laws"

Robert Goldberg is a tutor at St. John's College, Annapolis. Goldberg earned his bachelor's from St. John's and his doctorate from Harvard University. He taught at the University of Toronto and Kenyon College before joining the faculty at St. John's College in 1995.

Tuesday, October 4th

Mary Graydon Center, Room 200, 5:30 PM
Jan Blits, University of Delaware, "Deadly Virtue: Shakespeare's MacBeth"

Thursday, October 27th

Palmer-Kettler Lounge, 5:30 PM
Robert Gannett, Jr., Chicago community organizer and noted political theorist, "Participation Outside the Voting Booth: Saul Alinsky, Tocqueville, and Why Community Organizing is Important"

Tuesday, November 1st

McDowell Formal Lounge, 5:30 PM
Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, "The Fractured Republic"

Thursday, December 1st

MGC 200, 5:30 PM
Leslie Rubin, "Aristotle and the 2016 Election: What Virtues Does the Political Life Require?"

Director Alan Levine


A specialist in the history of Western political thought, Professor Levine's teaching and research interests include the theoretical principles of the United States, the concept of "America," and ancient, renaissance, modern, and postmodern political theory.

PTI Faculty

Associate Director Thomas Merrill

Associate Professor Thomas Merrill

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An Archive of Theory

  • View videos of our Janus Forum Debates on Gay Marriage (Rauch v. Raimondo) the 2012 Election (Kristol v. Galston), and U.S. Foreign Policy (Preble v. Fly). 
  • Watch each of the three panels of our conference on the "Morality of Capitalism."
  • Review a list of our 2012-2013 lectures and speakers.

Event Videos

The Role of Art in Democracy

Annual Conference 2014

Debate on Economic Inequality