Baylor > Political Science > Lectures


Baylor's Political Science Department brings renowned lecturers to campus every year to meet with students and to deliver lectures on topics of interest to faculty and students alike. We sponsor the Miller Lecture Series, Constitution Day, and the Visiting Scholars Program. In addition, recent lecturers include:

Assistant Professor David DiPasquale lectures on Alfarabi

Lecturer_DiPasqualeDavid DiPasquale, Visiting Assistant Professor from Boston College, delivered a lecture entitled "Alfarabi in Thirty Words: An Introduction to his Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle" to Baylor faculty and students on March 5, 2015. Abu Nasr Alfarabi (d. 950) founded the main tradition of philosophy in the Islamic world. Regarded by his Muslim and Jewish successors such as Avicenna, Averroes and Maimonides as the "Second Teacher" or greatest philosophical figure following the death of Aristotle, Alfarabi was understood to have been the leading authority in two fields of study, namely, logic and political science. Claiming to have recovered a tradition of Greek philosophy that was on the verge of extinction after centuries of Middle- and Neo-Platonism, Alfarabi is largely responsible for the contemporary view that regards Plato as a political philosopher and not a theologian. Dipasquale's lecture helped his audience come to understand this claim through a consideration of Alfarabi's tripartite Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle and in particular the thirty words that comprise the complete Arabic titles of its three parts.

David DiPasquale is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and in the Islamic Civilization and Societies Program at Boston College, where he teaches courses on Islamic political thought, the history of the Muslim world, medieval Jewish and Christian political philosophy, and on the current debates concerning the relationship between Islam and the Western liberal tradition. Professor DiPasquale received his Master's and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, where he studied Arabic language and literature, Islamic law, and the tradition of Western political philosophy. He recently completed a first-ever English translation of and commentary on the entire newly revised Arabic text of Alfarabi's Kitab al-Jadal, which is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Professor Marc Landy defends Federalism

AhrensdorfMarc Landy, a professor of Political Science at Boston College, delivered a lecture entitled "Taking Federalism Seriously" to Baylor faculty and students on November 6, 2014. Claiming that Federalism is too often viewed in politically opportunistic terms, Landy defended it as a good in itself, to be cherished and protected for its own sake. He described seven separate constitutional and political functions of federalism that preserve, protect, and promote "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." He also examined the current condition of federalism to see if it is actually performing such vital tasks. He concluded by discussing three contemporary judicial and political developments that aim at restoring a robust federalism, as well as the impact of continuing fiscal crisis.

Marc Landy and Sidney Milkis wrote Presidential Greatness (Kansas U. Press, 2000) and American Government: Balancing Liberty and Democracy, the third edition of which will appear in 2011. He is an author of The Environmental Protection Agency From Nixon to Clinton: Asking the Wrong Questions (1994). He is an editor of Creating Competitive Markets: The Politics and Economics of Regulatory Reform (2007); Seeking the Center: Politics and Policymaking at the New Century (2001); and The New Politics of Public Policy (1995). His recent articles include: "Terror and the Executive," National Affairs, Spring 2010; EPA and Nanotechnology: The Need for a Grand Bargain?, in Christopher J. Bosso, ed., Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology (Washington DC: RFF Press, 2010); (Sidney Milkis, co-author), The Presidency in the Eye of the Storm, The Presidency and the Political System, Ninth Edition (CQ Press, Washington DC. 2010); "Mega-Disasters and Federalism," Public Administration Review, Vol. 68, Issue 6, October 2008; and "Great Presidents are Agents of Democratic Change," in Richard Ellis and Michael Nelson, eds., Debating the Presidency, CQ Press, 2006.

Professor Peter Ahrehnsdorf discusses Achilles, David, and Human Excellence

AhrensdorfPeter Ahrensdorf, the James Sprunt Professor of Political Science and Affiliated Professor of Classics at Davidson College, delivered a lecture entitled "The Contest Between Achilles and David: Homer, the Bible, and the Question of Human Excellence" to Baylor faculty and students on October 9, 2014. He compared Achilles and David as men of war, of faith, and of passion, while highlighting the important but distinctive role of reason in each life. Further information can be found in the précis.

Ahrensdorf is the author of articles on Plato, Thucydides, Hobbes, Sophocles, and Domingo Sarmiento, and of five books: Homer on the Gods and Human Virtue: Creating the Foundations of Classical Civilization (2014); Sophocles' Theban Plays, co-translated with Thomas L. Pangle (2013); Greek Tragedy and Political Philosophy: Rationalism and Religion in Sophocles’ Theban Plays (2009); Justice Among Nations: On the Moral Basis of Power and Peace, co-authored with Thomas L. Pangle, (1999); and The Death of Socrates and the Life of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato's Phaedo (1995).

Professor Muller Speaks on Churchill’s The River War

Lecturer_Muller James W. Muller, professor of political science at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, delivered a lecture on “Winston S. Churchill at War on the Nile: War, Race, Empire and Religion,” to Baylor faculty and students on September 19, 2014. Churchill fought on the Nile in the reconquest of the Sudan by an Anglo-Egyptian army commanded by Herbert Kitchener. As a second lieutenant in his early twenties who also served as a war correspondent, Churchill participated in the 1898 campaign against the Mahdist regime, riding in the cavalry charge at Omdurman. After the battle, Churchill wrote The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan, first published in two volumes in 1899. The book, which had its origins in the controversial dispatches he wrote for the Morning Post in London, presents a sympathetic portrait of Muhammad Ahmad, who founded the Dervish empire in the Sudan, an early instance of political Islam. Taking issue with the idea that the Dervishes were religious fanatics, Churchill argues that the Mahdist regime gained support after the Sudanese had been mistreated under Egyptian rule and that the Dervish warriors were brave men who fought to sustain their honor. Churchill raises doubts about whether the Sudanese people are better off on account of the reconquest, and maintains that that the future development of the Sudan under British imperium should respect the religion of the country and focus on small-scale development projects, eschewing British missionaries and speculators.

James W. Muller is professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and Academic Chairman of the Churchill Centre. He is currently working on a new definitive edition of The River War, which will be published in two volumes by St. Augustine’s Press. Professor Muller is. He is editor of a number of books by and about Churchill, most recently new editions of Churchill’s interwar books Thoughts and Adventures and Great Contemporaries, published in paperback by ISI Books in 2009 and 2012.

Professor Stephen Skowronek discusses political development in America

Skowronek Stephen Skowronek, Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political Science at Yale University, presented Baylor Political Science Department’s inaugural “State of the Research on Institutions and Development Lecture" on April 11, 2014.  Skowronek spoke about his paper “Pathways to the Present: Political Development in America”(co-authored with Karen Orren, UCLA), with Baylor faculty and students.   In his talk he discussed the American Political Development (APD) sub-field, which he described as having an agenda that speaks to “the defining characteristics of the regime” and concentrates upon debates that revolve around “the polity’s identity, integrity, capacity, adaptability, and trajectory.”  He introduced his ongoing project, tracing the development of the American “policy state,” as example of this kind of work.

Skowronek has written award winning books on American state building Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877-1920; 1982) and presidential leadership The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton; 1997).  He was editor of Studies in American Political Development from 1986 to 2007, a journal he co-founded.  His most recent work with Karen Orren, The Search for American Political Development, was published in 2004.

Professor Dan DiSalvo Discusses American Political Parties

Lecturer_DiSalvo Dan DiSalvo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State and Local Leadership and assistant professor of the City College of New York (CUNY), visited Baylor’s Department of Political Science on March 4, 2014. He presented a lecture entitled "From Hardhats to Blackboards: How Government Employees Came to Dominate Organized Labor and the Implications for American Federalism" to undergraduate students and also hosted a discussion of his work on parties with interested graduate students.

DiSalvo received his doctorate in politics from the University of Virginia and served as the Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor at Amherst College. His work focuses on American political parties, elections, labor unions, state government, and public policy. He is the author of Engines of Change: Party Faction in American Politics, 1868-2010 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) and editor of Building Coalitions, Making Policy: The Politics of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Presidencies (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). He is also a regular contributor on, a project of the Manhattan Institute.

For more information about his work, see

Michael Davis Discusses Lesser Hippias

Michael Davis, professor of Philosophy from Sarah Lawrence College, discussed with Baylor faculty and students his paper, "Lies Like the Truth: On Plato's Lesser Hippias" on October 18, 2013.  The dialogue, he argued, raises through its treatment of Odysseus, “a man of many ways” (polutropos), the problem of the soul : How can what is “somehow all beings” show itself as what it is?  He also linked this question of the soul with our experience of poetry and philosophy.

Davis has written widely on ancient philosophy and poetry, including commentaries on Aristotle’s Poetics  (The Poetry of Philosophy, 1992) and on Aristotle’s Politics (The Politics of Philosophy, 1996), The Autobiography of Philosophy, 2000, and most recently The Soul of the Greeks: An Inquiry (University of Chicago, 2012). A collection of his essays, Wonderlust: Ruminations on Liberal Education, was published in 2006.

Davis, wide

Faculty and students listen as Dr. Davis (far left) discusses the problem of the soul.

Professor Jeffrey Church discusses political thought of Johann Gottfried Herder

Jeff ChurchJeffrey Church, political scientist from the University of Houston, visited Baylor on April 19, 2013, and discussed his work on 18th century German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder with faculty and students. Discussion involved Herder’s reflections on freedom, individuality, education, and culture, and their relevance to contemporary liberal and democratic theory.

Church is a political theorist with particular interest in Continental thought from Jean-Jacques Rousseau through Friedrich Nietzsche. He has published articles on G.W.F. Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, and David Hume. His book Infinite Autonomy: the Divided Individual in the Political Thought of G.W.F. Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche was published by Penn State Press in 2011. He is currently working on a book-length project that will explore Nietzsche’s conception of culture and its potential contribution to overcoming the contemporary struggle between conservative and progressive critics of culture.

Professor Susan Collins speaks on Aristotle’s Political Science & the Problem of Regime

Susan CollinsIn the spring of 2012 Professor Susan D. Collins spoke to Baylor faculty and students on the problem of the regime in Aristotle’s political science. Collins’s work explores the intersection of ethics and politics in ancient thought, contemporary efforts to use Aristotle’s thought in resolving the problems of liberalism, and the classical understanding of political order. She holds a joint appointment at the University of Houston in Political Science and the Honors College, where she helped to found and then directed Phronesis, an interdisciplinary minor in ethics and politics housed in the Honors College.

Collins has recently published a new translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, with Robert Bartlett (University of Chicago, 2011), with notes, glossary, and interpretive essay. Other publications include Aristotle and the Rediscovery of Citizenship (Cambridge 2006), “Moral Virtue and the Limits of the Political Community in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics,” in the American Journal of Political Science (January 2004), Action and Contemplation: Studies in the Moral and Political Thought of Aristotle (SUNY 1999), Empire and the Ends of Politics: Plato’s Menexenus and Pericles’ Funeral Oration (Focus Philosophical Library, 1999), and “The Challenge of Plato’s Menexenus” in Review of Politics (January 1999).

Ann Ward speaks on friendship in Aristotle’s Ethics

Ann WardDr. Ann Ward gave a presentation in May of 2011 on friendship in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics to Baylor faculty and students. She explored the relation between friendship and both the family and the political community. She is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Political Studies Campion College of the University of Regina.

Ward’s works include Herodotus and the Philosophy of Empire (Baylor University Press, 2008); “Generosity and Inequality in Aristotle’s Ethics,” POLIS: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought (2011); "Friendship and Politics in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics," European Journal of Political Theory (2011); "Justice as Economics in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethic," Canadian Political Science Review 4 (2010). She has also edited Matter and Form: From Natural Science to Political Philosophy (Lexington Books 2009); Ashgate Research Companion to Federalism (co-edited with Lee Ward, 2009); Socrates: Reason or Unreason as the Foundation of European Identity (Cambridge Scholars Press 2007).

Professor James Ceaser lectures on Tocqueville and American Exceptionalism

Lecture Homepage_CeaserProfessor James Ceaser, of the University of Virginia, met with graduate students and faculty on March 31, 2011 to discuss Tocqueville's understanding of the drafting of the American Constitution in Democracy in America. Professor Ceaser provided students and faculty with his article to be published in The Review of Politics, "Alexis de Tocqueville and the Two-Founding Thesis." The discussion centered on whether Tocqueville viewed the drafting as a founding for America. He also lectured to undergraduate students on April 1, 2011 on American exceptionalism.

Professor Ceaser has published widely on American politics and political thought. He is the author of several books, including: Presidential Selection (Princeton University Press, 1979); Liberal Democracy and Political Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992); Reconstructing America (Yale University Press, 1997); and Nature and History in American Political Development (Harvard University Press, 2006).

Professor Rofe discusses "Special Relationships" as a Mode of Diplomacy

Lectures Homepage_Simon RofeProfessor Simon Rofe, of the University of Leicester, met with graduate students and faculty on November 30, 2010 to discuss transatlantic diplomacy. Professor Rofe addressed the “special relationship” as a particular mode of diplomacy at the outset of the twenty-first century.

Professor Rofe is the author of Franklin Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy and the Welles Mission (Palgrave, 2007). He has also written several articles and chapters, including: “Theodore Roosevelt: Preparedness and Defense,” a chapter in the Companion to Theodore Roosevelt (Wiley-Blackwells, 2010); “Lord Lothian’s Ambassadorship in Washington August 1939-December 1940” in Lothian and Anglo-American Relations 1900-1940 (Republic of Letters, 2010); “An Abortive Special Relationship? – US-Russian Relations in the Post Cold War World” with Dr. Alex Marshall in Allies and Clients: America’s “Special Relationships” (Routledge, 2009); and “The United States Security Dilemma – A Nation at War,” in My US: Views on the US National Security and Foreign Policy (Tritonic, 2007). Professor Rofe is also one of the founding editors of Argentina, the academic newsletter of the British International Studies Association’s US Foreign Policy Group

Professor Rengger speaks on Anti-Pelagian
Thought in International Relations

Lectures Homepage_Nick RenggerProfessor Nicholas Rengger, of the University of St. Andrews, met with graduate students and faculty on November 8, 2010 to give his lecture titled, "Dealing in Darkness: The Anti-Pelagian Imagination in Political Theory and International Relations." He spoke in light of three of his articles on John Gray, "dystopic liberalism," and anti-pelagianism.

Professor Rengger's works include "Realism's Hidden Dialogue: Leo Strauss, War and Politics," a chapter in Political Thought and International Relations: Variations on a Realist Theme (Oxford University Press, 2009); "Inter arma silent leges? Political Community, Supreme Emergency and the Rules of War," a chapter in War, Torture and Terrorism: Rethinking the Rules of International Security (Routeledge, 2008); "Marxism and International Ethics: An Exposition and Critique" (Oxford University Press, 2008); "Introduction: The State of War" (International Affairs, 2008); "Marxism and International Ethics: An Exposition and Critique," in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2008); and, "The Greatest Treason: On the Subtle Temptations of Preventive War" (International Affairs, 2008). He has further published on ethics and the international society, just war theory, realism, democratic war theory, cosmopolitanism, ancient Greek thought, and political theory and international relations. He is currently the Executive of the British International Studies Association and sits on the editorial advisory committee for International Affairs. Also, he is the editor of The Review of International Studies, the journal of the British International Studies Association.

Fuller Discusses Hobbes, Oakeshott, and Voegelin

Professor Timothy Fuller, of Colorado College, met with graduate students and faculty on November 12, 2009 to discuss Thomas Hobbes, and the different ways his work was interpreted by twentieth century political theorists Michael Oakeshott and Eric Voegelin. Participants read Oakeshott's famous "Introduction to Leviathan" and the sections on Hobbes in Voegelin's New Science of Politics. Professor Fuller visited campus to participate in the 2009 conference of the Michael Oakeshott Association, which was hosted at Baylor. He presented the opening address to the conference, "Victims of Thought: Restoring the Tradition of Political Philosophy in Arendt, Oakeshott, Strauss and Voegelin."

Professor Fuller is the editor of many of Oakeshott's most important works, including The Voice of Liberal Learning: Michael Oakeshott on Education (Yale 1990); Religion, Politics, and the Moral Life (Yale 1993); The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Skepticism (Yale 1995); and Rationalism in Politics (Liberty Fund). He has also edited a volume, Leading and Leadership (Notre Dame 2000) that includes reflections on leadership from classical thinkers such as Plato and Plutarch to more recent thinkers such as Max Weber, Woodrow Wilson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He has also published widely in the history of political thought, including articles on Plato, Hobbes, Shakespeare, and Leo Strauss.

Fuller Lecture

Faculty and students listen as Dr. Fuller (far right) discusses Hobbes.

Michael Zuckert Speaks on Dred Scott Decision

Michael Zuckert

Michael P. Zuckert, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor at the University of Notre Dame, spoke to faculty and students in May 2008 on the Dred Scott decision and its significance in our constitutional and political history. Professor Zuckert has published numerous books in American political thought and constitutional history.

Zuckert's works include Natural Rights and the New Republicanism (Princeton 1994); The Natural Rights Republic (Notre Dame 1996), which was named an outstanding book for 1997 by Choice magazine; Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy (Kansas 2002); and The Truth about Leo Strauss: Political Philosophy and American Democracy (with Catherine H. Zuckert) (Chicago 2006). He has written on a range of topics, including George Orwell, Plato's Apology, and Shakespeare, and contemporary liberal theory. He is currently completing a book called Completing the Constitution: The Post-Civil War Amendments, and has been commissioned to write the volume on John Rawls for a new series on Twentieth Century Political Philosophy. He co-authored and co-produced the public radio series Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson: A Nine Part Drama for the Radio and was senior scholar for Liberty, a six hour public television series on the American Revolution.

Catherine Zuckert Presents Her Work on Plato

Catherine_ZuckertCatherine H. Zuckert, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor at the University of Notre Dame, discussed her work on Plato's philosophic interlocutors in a seminar with faculty and graduate students in May 2008. Zuckert explained the coherence of dialogues on the basis of the dramatic order in which Plato indicates they took place. Exploring the relation between Socrates and the other philosophic interlocutors in Plato's dialogues (the Athenian Stranger, Parmenides, Timaeus, and the Eleatic Stranger), Zuckert shows both the limitations that Plato attributed to Socrates as well as the centrality of Socrates to Plato's understanding of philosophy. Zuckert's monumental work on the Platonic corpus was published by University of Chicago Press in 2009, Plato's Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues.

Professor Zuckert's writings also include Postmodern Platos: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss, Derrida (Chicago 1996); Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Philosophy in Novel Form (Rowman and Littlefield), which was named the "most outstanding book published in philosophy and religion" in 1990 by the Association of American Publishers; Understanding the Political Spirit: Socrates to Nietzsche (Yale), which won a Choice award for the best book in political theory in 1988; as well as many journal articles on the history of political thought and politics and literature.

Salkever Speaks on Aristotle's Philosophical Pedagogy

Stehphen SalkeverStehpehn G. Salkever, Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor at Bryn Mawr College in the Department of Political Science at Bryn Mawr College, spoke to graduate students and faculty on November 7, 2008, about "Teaching the Questions: Aristotle's Philosophical Pedagogy in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics." Professor Salkever visited Baylor as part of the Baylor Colloquium on Ancient and Modern Political Inquiry, sponsored by the Honors College, the Department of Classics, and the Department of Political Science. He spoke to the Colloquium on "Constructing Philosophical Conversations: We Moderns, the Ancients, and the Problem of Democracy."

Professor Salkever is the author of Finding the Mean: Theory and Practice in Aristotelian Political Philosophy (Princeton 1994) and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Greek Political Thought (2009). He is also the author of numerous articles, chapters, and reviews on ancient, modern, and contemporary political philosophy.

Howland Lectures at Baylor on "Primo Levi Nostalgia" and "Plato and the Talmud"

J HowlandJacob Howland is McFarlin Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tulsa, where he teaches in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Honors Program. He has written numerous books and articles on Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, and Kierkegaard, among others. His major works include Kierkegaard and Socrates: A Study in Philosophy and Faith (Cambridge 2006); The Paradox of Political Philosophy: Socrates' Philosophic Trial (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1998); and The Republic: The Odyssey of Philosophy (Twayne 1993).

Professor Howland has presented the Dennis A. Georges Lecturer at Hellenic Culture at Tulane University and the Maurice Meyer Distinguished Endowed Lecture at Rogers State University, and received numerous awards for outstanding teaching at the University of Tulsa. He is currently researching and writing a book on the connection between Plato and the Talmund. Professor Howland's visit to Baylor, in September 2007, was sponsored by the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Office of the Provost.