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Political Theory Institute

"The unexamined life is not worth living."
–Socrates

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

Fall 2020 Lecture Series

All events are live via Zoom from 5:30-7:00 pm ET. You must register for the event in advance and the Zoom link will be sent to you.

9/17: “Free Speech on Campus” by Jonathan Marks, Ursinus College. Our Constitution Day Lecture.
President Trump says that federal action is required to deal with the “professors and power structures trying to suppress dissent and keep young Americans . . . from challenging rigid, far-left ideology.” Is there a free speech crisis on campus? Professor Marks assesses the threat.

9/24: “Does Socialism have a future in the United States?” by Bhaskar Sunkara, editor Jacobin Magazine.
Socialism has historically been relegated to the American fringe, but has this changed with the rise of Bernie Sanders and the “squad”? Should we embrace socialism? Bhaskar Sunkara makes the case that socialism must be our future.

10/5: “Does Conservatism have a future in the United States?” by Patrick Deneen, Notre Dame University.
Traditional and neo-conservatism seem to have been obliterated politically by the pincers of Donald Trump and a growing socialism. Can conservatism rise again? Should it? Patrick Deneen, celebrated author of Why Liberalism Failed, makes the case for a new kind of conservatism.

10/15: “Do the Humanities Have a Future? The Liberal Arts Between Technocracy and Radicalism” by Ross Douthat, New York Times.

10/26: “Does the Center have a future in the United States?” by William Galston, Brookings Institution.
 Increasingly divided, America seems to be tearing itself apart. Can the “center” hold? How? William Galston makes the case for rebuilding the moderate middle.

11/19: “Fashion, Identity, and Freedom of Expression” by Gwenda-lin Grewal, New School for Social Research

PTI Webinar: Athens’ Plague and Ours

A horrible plague hit classical Athens. What does that episode, as told by the great historian Thucydides, have to teach us today in dealing with COVID-19? Watch SPA Prof. Borden Flanagan, in conversation with PTI Director Prof. Alan Levine, about the lessons of both trying episodes for living a meaningful life.

Lincoln Scholar Lecture with Danielle Allen

Does the Declaration of Independence still speak to us today? The document famously expresses American aspirations to liberty and equality for all, yet it was written at a time marked by slavery and racial injustice. In the inaugural Lincoln Scholars lecture, based on her book Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, Dr. Danielle Allen discusses how old texts can reveal unexpected perspectives and transformative possibilities.

Immigration, What Should U.S. Policy Be?

Immigration is a divisive issue in U.S. politics. Americans are divided over who and how many immigrants to admit as well as how we should think about illegal immigration. Join us, as Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation and Ramesh Ponnuru of The National Review help us think through these issues.

Funding for this project was provided by the Institute for Humane Studies.

The Purpose of a Liberal Education

Robert George and Cornel West led a discussion on the purpose of a liberal education at American University.

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2018 Students

The Political Theory Institute prepares students for a diverse array of graduate programs and career paths.

Jonathan Rauch's Top Ten Reasons Not to Silence Speech

Jonathan Rauch's Top Ten Reasons Not to Silence Speech

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Civil War Cannon

Research ·

Professors Link Relevance of Civil War to Political Debate Today

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