Superior graduate programs are ultimately based on the collaboration of dedicated students and outstanding teacher-scholars. Graduate students are best equipped to make their own contributions when they work closely with faculty at the leading edge of research.
Chicago's faculty has made fundamental contributions in all major areas of political science. Their teaching naturally reflects this range of interests. John McCormick, Sankar Muthu, Jennifer Pitts, Nathan Tarcov, and Linda Zerilli all offer courses on the classic texts of political philosophy as well as an intensive workshop for advanced graduate students. Chiara Cordelli’s research and teaching interests include contemporary analytic political philosophy, theories of domestic and global justice, and egalitarianism. Much of her research focuses on the domain of the social and the role of civil society in liberal-egalitarian thought, the relationship between political justice and personal morality, and the ethics of philanthropy and assistance. John McCormick's teaching and research interests include democratic theory, the history of constitutional government, political thought in the Florentine Renaissance, 20th century continental social and political theory, and contemporary European politics. He recently published the book, Machiavellian Democracy, and is working on another titled, The People's Princes: Machiavelli, Leadership and Liberty.
Sankar Muthu's research and teaching interests include Enlightenment political philosophy and its legacies; modern theories of international justice, global commerce, cultural pluralism, and cosmopolitanism; and historic debates about conquest, occupation, and just war. The author of Enlightenment Against Empire, he is currently writing a book about globalization in Enlightenment thought. Jennifer Pitts's teaching and research interests include modern political thought, especially 18th and 19th century British and French thought, and historical and contemporary debates about global justice, with a particular emphasis on global inequalities as well as the history of empire. Her book, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France, examined the dramatic shift in ideas about empire that unfolded in the years straddling the turn of the 19th century; she is currently at work on a book about theories and debates about the scope of international law and the international legal community, and about legal relations between European and non-European states, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nathan Tarcov, a leading scholar of the work of Locke, Machiavelli, and Leo Strauss, also offers courses on ancient Greek and Roman authors, Rousseau, and the American founders, and has written on the principles and practice of American foreign policy. Linda Zerilli works on feminist theory, modern democratic theory, and Continental philosophy. Her first book, Signifying Woman: Culture and Chaos in Rousseau, Burke, and Mill examined the figure of woman as both a disruptive and civilizing figure in modern political texts. In Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom, Zerilli uses the work of Hannah Arendt to rethink critical assumptions about politics in third-wave feminist thought, arguing for a move away from debates over identity and the category of woman to an understanding of feminism as a world-building practice. In her forthcoming book, Towards a Democratic Theory of Judgment, Zerilli uses the work of Arendt, Wittgenstein, and Kant to develop an approach to the problem of judgment in multicultural democratic societies. In addition to these scholars, the University boasts a number of other internationally recognized political theorists in the Law School, the Department of Philosophy, the Divinity School, and the Committee on Social Thought, who regularly interact with political scientists.
American politics is naturally a major concern of many Chicago faculty. The institutional features of American politics--from the budget process to race relations--are also well represented in departmental research. John Brehm studies American political behavior, focusing on public opinion and political organizations. Brehm also conducts research in statistical methods for political science. Cathy Cohen is interested in the politics of marginal groups, especially as they engage in non-traditional forms of political activism. While much of her research focuses on the politics of African American communities, she also works in the areas of queer theory, lesbian and gay politics, social movements and political activism and socialization among young people. Michael Dawson is recognized as one of the country's leading scholars of African-American politics. His work combines sophisticated data analysis with a deep understanding of community institutions that serve to mobilize opinion and organize political action. Mark Hansen makes use of rational choice models to examine phenomena ranging from political participation to interest group mobilization to interest group influence in Congress to the political economy of government revenue policy. William Howell writes broadly on separations of powers issues, with a particular focus on the American presidency. Having just finished a major study on the impacts of war on presidential power, he currently is undertaking projects on distributive politics, Obama's Race to the Top Initiative, and the normative foundations of executive power. Eric Oliver studies urban and suburban politics, racial attitudes, health policy, and political psychology. His books include Local Elections and the Politics of Small Scale Democracy, Democracy in Suburbia and Fat Politics: The Real Story behind America's Obesity Epidemic. John Padgett currently conducts research in the related areas of organizational invention and of state and market co-evolution, mostly in the context of Renaissance Florence but also through agent-based modeling. He is well known for his models of the federal budget process and for his studies of organizations, decisionmaking and social-political networks.
Chicago founded the modern study of international politics, under the leadership of the late Quincy Wright and Hans Morgenthau. Today, the department's faculty includes some of the leading scholars in the field. Their interests in both subject matter and methodology are diverse. John Mearsheimer has done pathbreaking work on conventional deterrence and international relations theory, and has co-authored a book on the Israel lobby that was on the New York Times best seller list. He is considered one of the leading realist thinkers in the world. Robert Pape has done provocative work on strategic air power and economic sanctions, and has recently published a book on the strategic logic of suicide terrorism. Paul Poast combines diplomatic history and statistical methodology to explore alliance politics and the political economy of international security. Paul Staniland works on political violence in South and Southeast Asia, with a focus on insurgency, state building, and foreign policy.
Chicago has long been concerned with the distinctive features of national political systems and the theoretical problems of comparing them. Comparative inquiry is particularly demanding since it requires both a broad conceptual sweep (crucial in identifying issues for comparison) and a detailed knowledge of countries and regions. A well trained scholar must not only understand local politics but also culture, language, and national history. This breadth is emphasized in Chicago's graduate training and is reflected in the faculty.
Mike Albertus's research focuses primarily on the politics of redistribution. His work combines in-depth field research with high-level formal analytics and detailed empirical analysis. Albertus is currently working on a book project that examines when and why land reform programs are implemented and why they are structured in different ways, with a focus on Latin America. He also has ongoing projects on political regime transitions and stability, politics under dictatorship, clientelism, and civil conflict. Gary Herrigel is interested in comparative political economy and alternative forms of governance in economic process and regulation throughout the developed and developing world. His recent book, Manufacturing Possibilities: Creative Action and Industrial Recomposition in the US, Germany and Japan applies pragmatist theories of creative social action to contemporary industrial transformation processes. Currently, he is completing a book on recursivity and governance in German Manufacturing Globalization and beginning a project looking at the intersection of public and private governance architectures in environmental and health and safety regulation in the Norwegian Off-Shore Oil industry. Ben Lessing studies the intersection of criminal violence and state consolidation in Latin America. He has conducted fieldwork on drug war-related violence in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil and he brings together qualitative expertise with sophisticated formal modeling. Monika Nalepa has contributed to the literature on transitional justice institutions, culminating in her publication of her award-winning book, Skeletons in the Closet: Transitional Justice in the PostCommunist World. She is currently working on two projects. The first explores the simultaneous development of parties and legislatures in PostCommunist Europe with a special focus on authoritarian legacies. Her new book manuscript, Parties Ascendant, uses an institutional approach to explain why parties in some PostCommunist countries did not fall into the trap of clientelistic politics.The project makes use of extensive voting, survey, and elite interview data. Her second project is a series of papers surveys conducted during the authoritarian period in Poland to explain the origin and unravelling of anti-communist attitudes, with a special focus on imperial legacies.
Lisa Wedeen's book, Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria, argues that official iconography can be politically fundamental even in the absence of belief or emotional commitment. Her work combines insights from comparative politics with interpretive methods from political theory and anthropology. She is currently working on a book about ideological interpellation, neoliberal autocracy, and generational change in present-day Syria. Dali Yang has written extensively on China's political economy and institutions. His earlier book, Calamity and Reform in China, provides both a rigorous dissection of the causes of the worst famine in human history and a new perspective on China's rural reforms. A recent book, Remaking the Chinese Leviathan, offers a provocative examination of China's ongoing governance reforms and how these reforms might affect the exercise of governmental authority and China's future political development. These scholars are all active participants in the University's area study centers, which bring together students and faculty from across the social sciences and humanities.
The University of Chicago prides itself on such innovative work that overcomes traditional subdivisions in political science and borrows from related fields. Our graduate education reflects these ideals. Our students tend to do work with distinctive theoretical breadth and depth, often with historical and comparative dimensions. While all students explore several areas of the discipline, those with clear-cut initial interests have room to specialize. Other students may find that their eclectic interests, when carefully explored, produce intriguing and novel research questions. The department is flexible enough to accommodate both approaches.