Western Political Theory

1. Institution: Dartmouth College (Political Ideas)

Department: Government

Course-level: Undergraduate course, introduction

Format: Lecture

2. Institution: Roanoke College

Department: Public Affairs

Course-level: Advanced undergraduate course

Format: Lecture


This course traces the development of Western political thought from the Ancient Greeks to contemporary political philosophy. The course has three central goals. First, to gain a deeper understanding of key terms in political theory—such as democracy, justice, equality, freedom, political authority, and the good life—by reading classic texts. Second, to trace the historical evolution of these terms in Western political thought. And third, to consider the historical context in which the discussed political philosophers produced their texts. We will examine the works of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Marx.