Brown’s Department of Political Science offers exceptional resources for the advanced study of politics across a wide range of areas. Committed to excellence in research and teaching, to methodological diversity, and to interdisciplinarity, the department is a stimulating intellectual community situated on a vibrant university campus. Our students benefit from the opportunity to work closely with leading scholars; they enjoy access to first-rate libraries, a variety of research centers and institutes, and strong support for their own scholarship – from fieldwork to methods workshops to conference travel.
The community of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and faculty members in political science is a close and collegial one, and our graduate students are among the happiest you will find anywhere. All our graduate students receive five years of guaranteed funding. We provide extensive support for professional development, including workshops on topics such as publishing, grant-writing, conference participation, and the job market. We have a strong placement record with recent graduates taking tenure-track faculty positions at institutions such as Occidental College, Queens College, University of Massachusetts, Skidmore College, Merrimack College, University of Oregon, Clark University, and others.
American Politics. The American politics subfield is especially focused on diversity studies – race politics, Latino politics (the national Latino survey is based at Brown), gender studies, and urban affairs. The department is also especially strong in political history (American Political Development) and political institutions (the presidency, congress, and the bureaucracy). We are quite unusual in several ways: We eagerly cross the boundaries to other subfields – taking questions from political theory and methods from comparative politics. We focus on big questions that matter for American politics and society. And we pay particular attention to the policy implications of our research. Our faculty and graduate students enjoy especially close ties with Brown’s Urban Studies Program, the Taubman Center for Public Policy, and the Education Department. Building on these ties, Political Science faculty and students have become national leaders in the study of American political institutions, race, health policy and education policy.
Comparative Politics. Comparative politics at Brown has particular strengths in the political economy of development; ethnic identity and conflict; the politics of social welfare; regimes and regime change; and qualitative methods. Our faculty are engaged in broadly-comparative as well as regionally-focused research, including South Asia, Latin America, China, the Middle East and North Africa, Western Europe, and the Post-Soviet region. Resources for graduate students include Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies, which hosts the Colloquium on Comparative Research lecture series (among many other things) and provides interdisciplinary training opportunities through the Graduate Program in Development Studies; the Post-Communist Politics and Economics Workshop; and the Seminar on South Asian Politics (co-sponsored with Harvard and MIT).
International Relations. The subfield of international relations has traditionally been divided into areas such as international security, international organization, and international political economy. While offering expertise in each of these areas, the IR group at Brown seeks to emphasize how the study of 'the international' in a post-cold war, globalized environment necessarily stretches beyond such categories and invites linkages across other fields such as comparative politics, political theory, political psychology, and political economy. Our faculty structure their research and teaching thematically, offering graduate courses in areas such as money and finance, continuity and change in international orders, post-Cold War conflict, and International Relations theory. Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies offers additional resources for our students, including associated faculty, colloquia and film series, and the Graduate Program in Development.
Political Theory. The political theory subfield at Brown specializes in democratic theory and in classical and contemporary liberalism, with particular strengths in the foundations of democratic authority and the meaning of rights; political theory and the law; gender; democracy and political economy; political judgment and democratic deliberation; theories of freedom; American political thought; civic engagement and the public/private divide; justice and difference; and international political theory. We approach these topics both analytically and through the history of political thought. Graduate students work closely with department faculty as well as with associated faculty in departments that include Philosophy and Religious Studies. They also benefit from engagement with the postdoctoral fellows in the Political Theory Project at Brown and from the political philosophy workshop, which brings together faculty members, graduate students, postdocs, and prominent scholars from other departments and universities for a vibrant and wide-ranging exchange of ideas. Our students have an unusually prominent role in the intellectual life of the political theory community here.
In addition to the expertise found within each of the four subfields, the department as a whole has strengths in several interdisciplinary areas that cross between the subfields, such as ethnicity and politics; political economy; the politics of race and gender; political psychology; world politics; political development/political history; mass politics in democracies; public policy and administration; urban politics; and politics and the law. Detailed descriptions of faculty research interests can be found by clicking on the faculty link.