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					October 8, 2007

Professor Donna L. Bahry, Head
Department of Political Science
203 Pond Laboratory
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802-6200

Dear Professor Bahry:

At the recent American Political Science Association Meeting, the Foundations of
Political Theory Section of the APSA learned of your department’s decision to
discontinue the track in political theory as a course of study available to doctoral
students.

At our annual Business Meeting, our membership voted unanimously to voice our serious
concern for the devaluation of political theory at The Pennsylvania State University and
its potential impact on the profession. In light of the central place that political theory
has for the study of political life, we find this decision regrettable and ill-advised.

In the development of the discipline of Political Science, it has been political theory that
has been the moral voice of political science and emphasized the need to attend to the
moral and ethical aspects of political explanation. It has been political theory that has
emphasized the need to study those aspects of political life often ignored by
methodologically driven research, problems such as those dealing with gender and race.
It has been political theory that has encouraged the discipline toward problem based
research, as reflected in the most recent edition of The State of the Discipline (2004)
rather than methodologically driven research. It has been political theory that continues
to remind us that our methodological choices have normative and ethical implications
that we cannot ignore. Finally, it has been political theory that first raised and continues
to raise the question of the ways that ethnocentrism influences our understanding of other
cultures and ways of life.

In light of the centrality of political theory to this range of issues, it is not surprising that
the Foundations of Political Theory annually has the highest attendance of any section at
the APSA Meeting and that the three sections of political theory (Foundations,
Normative, and Historical) combined have greater attendance than any other three
sections from all other subfields. These reflect the central place of political theory in the
discipline as a whole.
We understand that there are times when Departments and Colleges must make difficult
choices. We have all faced such challenges, particularly those of us whose institutions
have undergone budget crises and reductions. However, cutting political theory from the
course of study for doctoral students is, we believe, short sighted. Moreover, not only is
it disadvantageous for graduate students, but such decisions have ways of adversely
impacting undergraduate education as well.

We sincerely hope that the faculty of the Department of Political Science will reconsider
its decision.

Respectfully yours,


Michael T. Gibbons
Chair, Foundations of Political Theory, APSA
Department of Government and International Affairs
SOC 107
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL 33620

Martha Ackelsberg
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor
Department of Government and Program for the Study of Women and Gender
Smith College

David Armitage
Co-Chair, International Conference for the Study of Political Thought
Professor of History
Harvard University

Kathleen R. Arnold, Assistant Professor
Departments of Political Science and Geography
University of Texas at San Antonio

Katherine Lawrie Balfour, Associate Professor
Department of Politics
University of Virginia

Benjamin R. Barber,
Kekst Professor of Political Science
University of Maryland
Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos
New York City




                                                                                            2
Sotorios Barber, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Seyla Benhabib
Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy
Director, Ethics, Politics and Economics Program
Yale University

Jane Bennett
Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science
The Johns Hopkins University

Alex Betancourt-Serrano, Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Puerto Rico

Wendy Brown, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Terrell Carver, Professor
Department of Politics
University of Bristol, UK
Consulting Editor, Political Theory

Samuel Chambers, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Swansea
Wales, UK

Joan Cocks, Professor
Department of Political Science
Mt. Holyoke College

Joshua Cohen, Professor
Department of Political Science
Stanford University

Romand Coles, Professor
Department of Political Science
Duke University




                                                             3
William E. Connolly
Kreiger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science
The Johns Hopkins University
Former Editor, Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy

Daniel Conway
Professor and Head of Philosophy
Texas A&M University

Fred Dallmayr
Packey Dee Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Joshua Foa Dienstag
Professor and Vice Chair for Graduate Studies
Department of Political Science
University of California at Los Angeles

Mary Dietz, Professor
Editor, Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy
Department of Political Science
Northwestern University

Lisa Jane Disch, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Christine DiStefano, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Washington

Thomas Dumm, Professor
Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science
Amherst College

Elisabeth Ellis, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Texas A & M University

Jean Bethke Elshtain
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics
Divinity School
University of Chicago




                                                                                    4
Stephen Engelmann, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Illinois at Chicago

J. Peter Euben
Research Professor of Political Science
William R. Kenan Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethics
Duke University

James Farr, Professor
Department of Political Science
Northwestern University

Kathy Ferguson, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Hawai’i

Kennan Ferguson, Director
Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Program
University of South Florida

Cheryl Hall, Associate Professor
Department of Government and International Affairs
University of South Florida

Renee Heberle, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Toledo

Don Herzog, Professor
Book Review Editor, Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy
Department of Political Science
University of Michigan

Nancy Hirschmann, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Bonnie Honig, Professor
Department of Political Science
Northwestern University

Kimberly A. Hudson, Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
American International College




                                                                                         5
Jack Jacobs
Professor and Deputy Executive Officer
Graduate Program in Political Science
The City University of New York

Stephen Johnston, Associate Professor
Department of Government and International Affairs
University of South Florida

Ira Katznelson
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History
Columbia University
Former President, American Political Science Association

Ellen Kennedy, Professor
Department of Political Science
The University of Pennsylvania

Nannerl Keohane
Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs
University Center for Human Values
Princeton University

George Klosko
Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor
Department of Politics
University of Virginia

Sonia Kruks
Danforth Professor of Politics
Oberlin College

Mika LaVaque-Manty, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Michigan

Nancy Love, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Pennsylvania State University




                                                                    6
Kirstie McClure, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of California at Los Angeles

John P. McCormick, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Chicago

Stephen Macedo
Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics
Director, University Center for Human Values
Princeton University

Patchen Markell, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Chicago

Jamie Mayerfeld, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Washington

Walter Murphy
McCormack Professor of Jurisprudence
Department of Politics
Princeton University

Andrew Norris, Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Anne Norton, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Martha Nussbaum
Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics
Department of Philosophy
Co-Chair, Human Rights Program
University of Chicago

J. G. A. Pocock
Harry C. Black Emeritus Professor of History
Departments of History and Political Science
The Johns Hopkins University




                                                                 7
Jennifer Pitts, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Chicago

Corey Robin, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow, Princeton University, 2007-08

Melvin L. Rogers, Assistant Professor
Department of Politics
University of Virginia

Nancy Rosenblum
Chair and Senator Joseph S. Clark Professor of Government
Department of Government
Harvard University

Srirupa Roy, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph
William Benton Distinguished Service Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Chicago
Former President, American Political Science Association

Michael Sandel
Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government
Harvard University

Arlene Saxonhouse, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Michigan

Gordon Schochet, Professor
Department of Political Science
Rutgers University

Morton Schoolman, Professor
Department of Political Science
State University of New York, Albany




                                                                         8
John Seery, Professor
Department of Political Science
Pomona College

Ian Shapiro
Sterling Professor of Political Science
Yale University

Michael Shapiro, Professor
Editor, Theory and Event
Department of Political Science
University of Hawai’i

Rogers Smith
Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Sharon Snowiss, Professor
Department of Politics
Pitzer College

Shannon Stimson, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of California at Berkeley

Tracy B. Strong
UCSD Distinguished Professor
Political Science Department
University of California at San Diego
Former Editor: Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy

Leslie Paul Thiele, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Florida

Joan C. Tronto, Professor
Departments of Political Science and Women’s Studies
CUNY--Hunter College

Stephen Turner
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Philosophy
University of South Florida




                                                                                    9
Jeremy Waldron
University Professor
New York University School of Law

John R. Wallach, Professor
Department of Political Science
Hunter College & The Graduate Center
The City University of New York

Mark Warren
Harold and Dorie Merilees Chair in the Study of Democracy
Department of Political Science
University of British Columbia

Stephen White
James Hart Professor of Politics
University of Virginia
Former Editor: Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy

E. Victor Wolfenstein, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of California at Los Angeles

Elizabeth Wingrove, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Michigan

Nicholas Xenos, Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Former Editor, Polity

Catherine Heldt Zuckert
Nancy Reeves Drew Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Michael P. Zuckert
Chair and Nancy Reeves Drew Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame


cc:    Professor Graham Spanier, President
       Professor Rodney A. Erickson, Executive Vice President and Provost



                                                                                    10
Professor Susan Welch, Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Professor Dianne Pinderhughes, President, American Political Science
       Association
Dr. Michael Brintnall, Executive Director, American Political Science
       Association
Dr. Robert Hauck, Deputy Director, American Political Science Association




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