The Association for Political Theory (APT) was founded in 2000 to promote the study of political theory and political philosophy in North America. Specifically, the Association seeks to advance scholarly interaction, collaboration, and debate among political theorists; to support teaching, research, and publishing in political theory, political philosophy, and related forms of interdisciplinary studies; to organize annual conferences devoted to political thought; and to promote political theory in the academy. APT welcomes as members faculty, independent scholars, and graduate students with an interest in political thought from all disciplines.
The founding members of APT believe that political theorists need more opportunities to meet each other, to work together, and to develop dialogues on the political, historical, and philosophical questions central to their inquiries. While national and regional professional organizations in political science, history, and philosophy do attract the participation of political theorists and philosophers, these meetings primarily serve the purpose of building the scholarly communities of those broader disciplines.
APT seeks to offer political theorists a different kind of intellectual opportunity: the opportunity to join a group dedicated to forging connections among scholars of political theory from across the disciplines. It is our hope that building an organization that is both more intimate than the larger disciplinary organizations and that is focused primarily on political theory and philosophy will promote regular interaction and dialogue among scholars associated with the various traditions or approaches to political thought and philosophy. The Association believes building an organization that links political theorists from all fields is especially important in an era in which political science and philosophy departments may have only one faculty line in political thought. For such scholars a national association could prove vital to their continued intellectual development. To these ends, APT aims to encourage wide participation within North America, not only by leading scholars in the field, but also by faculty and graduate students just beginning to make contributions to the field.
Teaching and Scholarship
The Association seeks to bring faculty, students, and independent scholars together in order to promote the teaching and writing of political theory. As an initial step toward this end, APT plans to construct a website on which members will be able to share ideas for courses and syllabi, review books and articles in print, and discuss pedagogical issues. As the organization expands and as the financial pressures on university presses grow, APT may also explore new ways to support opportunities for publishing in the subfield. More generally, the Association plans to encourage discussions among scholars about how best to teach and publish in political theory and philosophy in the 21st century.
APT will sponsor conferences focused solely on political theory, the history of political thought, and political philosophy. Ultimately, the Association hopes to organize an annual conference that attracts faculty, graduate students, and independent scholars associated with all traditions and approaches and from all types of colleges and universities. It is hoped that this conference would encourage dialogue across disciplines, traditions, and approaches, while also bringing together influential scholars and dedicated teachers, leaders in the field and relative novices, researchers at elite universities and scholars at liberal arts colleges and lesser-known institutions. The organizers of APT conferences will seek to accommodate as many participants as possible.
The size and format of the annual conference will develop over time. During the first two years, financial and organizational constraints may limit APT to sponsoring a small conference, restricted largely to individuals interested in helping to build the Association. The format of these meeting - panels, pedagogical workshops, plenary talks, and the like - will depend largely upon the interests of those participants. Eventually, however, APT hopes to sponsor larger conferences that offer members a variety of formats in which to participate. The basic principle guiding the development of the APT conferences will be encouraging inclusive dialogues.
Finally, advocacy is a vital element in the mission of APT. The Association, by building bonds among political theorists and political philosophers, and by encouraging scholarly excellence and innovation, will aim to highlight the value of political theory and political philosophy in university and college curricula, while also working to strengthen the position of the subfield in political science, philosophy, and interdisciplinary programs across North America.