Contact Us

Phone: (202) 885-2940 Graduate programs: Undergraduate programs:

Kerwin Hall

Public Affairs, School of 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016 United States

Back to top


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. American University has a long tradition of vigorous political debate. Behind every serious political controversy, however, lies a disagreement about political principles, justice, the good life, or fundamental assumptions about human nature. A thoughtful and morally serious engagement with the controversies of the day, therefore, requires serious reflection on the underlying questions of political theory. PTI will foster and promulgate serious reflection on these underlying questions.

Open to all ideas and perspectives, PTI aims to promote vigorous and thoughtful discussion and critical engagement by AU faculty, the national and international political theory community, and policy makers with the problems confronting liberal democracies. It aims to support scholarship that will help inform and enrich the larger conversation about political ideas. Above all, PTI fosters a spirit of enlightened citizenship, at once thoughtful and engaged, that takes intellectual disagreements seriously without being ideological. It aims to be an incubator of thought and to bring these thoughts to the world.

PTI takes a special interest in the world's most successful experiment in applied theory: the American republic. This interest includes the United States' founding documents and principles and the political theories underlying them, especially classical liberalism but also the philosophies of classical antiquity, the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. PTI also examines the profound challenges to liberalism posed by past thinkers and critics on the Left and Right alike.