Injustice, Domination and Exploitation

What is injustice? Why it is wrong if one group dominates another? How does exploitation work? Is imperialism wrong, necessarily? Recent years have witnessed a surge of theoretical and philosophical inquiry into the nature and forms of injustice including misogyny, racism and economic exploitation. Will read and discuss works by a diverse range of authors like Tommie Shelby, Kate Manne and Miranda Fricker. Will encounter classic works on the nature of justice by authors like John Rawls.

Activism and Christianity in Modern America

An exploration of the relation of Christian belief and practices with agitation for social change, with a focus on the United States from the colonial period to the present. Attention given to how identity, power, and suffering shape historical judgments about the intersection of religion and ethics. Close readings of primary sources drawn from autobiographies, letters, sermons, poems, and treatises. Figures may include John Wesley, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Pauli Murray, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan.

Toleration, Freedom of Conscience, and Religious Liberty

Explores the ideas of toleration, freedom of conscience, and religious liberty through a careful study of philosophers and theologians in the Roman world, where arguments for these concepts first emerged. Also considers the important contributions of early modern political philosophers and discussions by contemporary theorists. Readings may include Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, St. Augustine, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Roger Williams, Jefferson, Nussbaum, and Forst.


Study of the republican political theory and its historical tradition. Emphasis on key concepts of this tradition, including freedom as non-domination, virtue, the mixed constitution and the common good. Study and comparison of the Roman Republic, English, American, Italian and French republic trends. Readings include Cicero, Machiavelli, Milton, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Arendt and contemporary neo-republican scholarship. Instructor: Rousseliere.

South African Life Histories

Explores the last century of South African history through the lens of biography and autobiography.  Protagonists range from little known South Africans like the sharecropper Kas Maine, an African prophetess, and the self-styled godfather of Soweto to political artists and writers, and will include some of the country's most famous citizens like Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Helen Suzman.  Readings are a mix of scholarly and non-scholarly writings.

Political History of Modern Architecture: From Revolution through Neoliberalism

Given the needs for labor, materials, and legal permissions, architects in the modern period by definition intersect with interests of power. This course explores the role of political institutions and ideologies in the history of modern architecture. While the course focuese on European and North American examples, we will also include key case studies of non-Euroamerican architecture and politics. The course provides a foundational knowledge of the history of modern architecture as well as how political institutions and ideologies have influenced that development. Instructor: Jaskot.

Inequality in Western Political Thought

Study of egalitarian and inegalitarian theories in the history of Western Political Thought. Distinction between forms of inequality (political, economic, social, racial, gender, etc.). Analysis of what kind of equality should be achieved (resources, opportunities, rights, respect, etc.). Connection of equality with other political and moral issues (freedom, responsibility, class conflict, well-being, poverty, exclusion, solidarity, difference, etc.).

Radical Islam - A History

This course focuses on the history of Muslim groups and social movements which are often regarded as politically fundamentalists or radical in the twentieth-century Middle East. We shall critically survey the intellectual origins of radical ideologies, the social history of the "Muslim Bortherhood: in Egypt and Syria, the politics of Saudi Arabia, the rise of Hizbullah, the question of the caliphate, the interaction between foreign intervention and the approval of violence as a legitimate means in politics, a history of al-Qaeda, and finally of what we know about ISIS.

Roman Political Thought and Its Modern Legacy

Why does Rome still capture the imagination of modern political commentators and theorists? This course examines Roman political thought as it was conceived under the Republic, reimagined under the Empire, and transformed by Christianity. Topics may include the Roman constitution, liberty, equality, property, slavery, rights, citizenship, civil religion, political corruption, rhetoric, imperialism, just war theory, and cosmopolitanism. Instructor: Atkins. 

Citizenship, Patriotism, & Identity

This course introduces students to fundamental moral questions about nation states and individuals' membership in them. Do people owe more to their compatriots than to foreigners? It is desirable - or at least permissible - for countries to have and promote a national identity? What different forms can patriotism take, and in which (if any) of these forms is it a virtue? Should we all be "citizens of the world?" These questions will be explored primarily through readings in contemporary moral and political philosophy. Open only to students in the Focus Program. Instructor: MacMullen.