Political Theory is a capacious subdiscipline that interrogates how concepts like justice and injustice, legitimacy, and authority have shaped political institutions, social movements, claims to sovereignty, and mass protest across time and place. The field understands political claims-making in historical perspective, focusing not only on the historical register of political theory (the Western canon), but also on the processes by which certain political perspectives are legitimized and others discounted and discredited along lines of gender, race, class, and colonization.
At Rutgers, our Political Theory program is distinguished by the unique strengths of our faculty and the strong connections they have forged between the canon and other areas of political science, especially including Women & Politics and REP. Building on this department expertise, the Graduate Minor in Political Theory focuses in particular on how the subfield intersects with, complicates, and supports the study of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity in Political Science. As such, the minor is designed to function best as a second minor in support of students taking their majors and/or first minors in W&P, REP, and Public Law, though it also supports students majoring in any of the traditional subfields of Political Science.
Faculty in Political Theory have expertise in a broad range of traditions and approaches, from classic texts in Western political thought to Marxist, feminist and queer, and Black and decolonial thinkers, and regularly offer courses in all of these areas.
Students wishing to complete a first or second minor in Political Theory must take the Proseminar in Political Theory. Students must also take two elective courses in political theory or an overlapping field for a total of 9 credits for the minor.
Elective courses may be selected from the graduate courses offered by political theory faculty. They may also be selected from courses in related fields at Rutgers, as well as from Political Theory courses offered at institutions participating in the intra-university exchange consortium (Columbia, CUNY, Fordham, The New School, NYU, Princeton). In keeping with the graduate handbook guidelines, electives taken outside of the department must be approved in writing by the field chair and then submitted for approval to the director of graduate studies.
Students pursuing a first minor in Political Theory must take a comprehensive written exam to be graded by the three members of the Political Science graduate faculty. The comprehensive committee will be comprised of the Political Science field chair, a second faculty member in Political Theory, and a third faculty member from the student’s first field.
Students pursuing a second minor in Political Theory are not required to take a comprehensive exam. In keeping with the graduate handbook guidelines, successful completion of the second minor requires that the student complete at least three related courses (including the proseminar) with an average of better than B+ (3.5+).
790:606 Proseminar in Political Theory [This can also be offered under 790:695 Independent Study in Political Theory while revisions to the course description are made]
This course offers students a comprehensive look at the history of political thought from the Ancients to key theorists of democracy in relation to both Western and more contemporary critics working in postcolonial, Black and queer feminist, and Marxist traditions. The course is designed to introduce students to the points of connection between Political Theory and the other major disciplines of Political Science, including Women & Politics and REP. Key canonical thinkers include Plato, Locke, Marx, Weber, and Foucault; among the more contemporary approaches covered are W.E.B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Saidiya Hartman, Angela Davis, and Judith Butler.
Graduate courses regularly offered by political theory faculty include:
790:660 Intersectional Political Theory
790:584 Themes in Feminist Theory
790:561 Black Feminist Theory
790:606 Research Topics in Political Theory [this course number is an option for students wishing to pursue a specific area related to their research interests and/or when there are enough students interested in a particular area to warrant a special topics seminar].
Graduate courses regularly offered by faculty outside of political science at Rutgers include:
988:516 Social Justice Movements
988:520 Agency, Subjectivity, and Social Change
988:530 Gendered Borders/Changing Boundaries
988:582 Feminist Genealogies
988:603 Feminist Knowledge Production
014:501 Graduate Seminar in Africana Studies
450:513 Capitalism and Its Others
450:605 Black Geographies
450:618 Abolition Geographies & Transformative Justice
920:516 Contemporary Sociological Theory
950:573 Topics in Social and Political Philosophy
730:684 Feminist Philosophy
Courses taught by political theorists at consortium universities may also be approved as electives. A sample of related graduate courses taught by political theorists at consortium institutions this year includes:
CUNY Graduate Center:
American Political Thought
Women’s Political Thought in Europe
Modern Political Thought
The New School:
Theorizing the Land
Reading Marx, Theorizing Capital
The Ethics of Borders and Migration
Key Concepts in Political Thought: Nation, Culture, Race
Problems in Political Theory: Self-Determination
International Political Theory
Advanced undergraduate courses taught by Rutgers political theory (with an added research component) may be approved as electives for students with specific research interests in the following areas:
790:379 Queer Power and Politics
790:423: Contemporary Feminist Theory
790:473: Critics of Modernity
790:xxx Critical Race Theory
790:xxx Gender, Public Policy, and the Law