Political theory is the study of the concepts, principles, and arguments that people use and have used to describe, explain, and evaluate political behaviors, actions, and institutions. Research in political theory is situated at the nexus of important political issues such as the nature and practice of democracy, authority, justice, leadership, and the rule of law; and of questions of norms, values, and ideals. Oriented to the history and traditions of political thought with a view to understanding the political present, and with particular strengths in ancient and modern political thought, the political theorists at the University of South Carolina draw on a variety of philosophical, historical, and interdisciplinary methods to explore central questions of and for political life. Major areas of interest among the political theorists at the University of South Carolina include questions of justice, citizenship, ethics, conflict, democracy, authority, and law.
The political theorists at the University of South Carolina publish in the leading disciplinary and specialty journals of the field, including the American Political Science Review, Political Theory and History of Political Thought, and with premier academic presses. Invited to present their research nationally and internationally, department faculty in political theory have organized and co-organized national and international conferences, been instructors at summer institutes funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and are active in exciting Initiatives on the USC campus. The Social Advocacy and Ethical Life Initiative sponsors fellowships that support teaching and research by graduate students interested in issues at the nexus of politics, ethics, and advocacy. The Classics in Contemporary Perspectives Initiative supports a postdoctoral research program, colloquia, and an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students as they explore the ways in which the ancient reflects, refracts, and interrogates the modern and the contemporary.