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For Graduate Students

There is a rich intellectual life for graduate students in social and political thought at Vanderbilt.

The Department

Prospective and current graduate students can find useful information at the Vanderbilt University, Political Science web page for graduate students. Additionally, graduate students in political theory can find helpful information about the field requirements, classwork expectations, and a student directory of theorists on the webpage of the Political Theory Program.

Graduate Students also have resources available at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities as well as the Global Feminisms Collaborative. The Women’s Center at Vanderbilt and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department also offer courses and resources for interested graduate students.  Additionally, details and instructions are available for students interested in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department graduate certificate in gender studies.

Global Feminisms Collaborative

The Global Feminisms Collaborative at Vanderbilt engages in scholarly and ethical reflections individually and collaboratively. Because Global Feminisms’ subjects of inquiry have long been marginalized questions within their home disciplines, enhancing Global Feminist scholarship takes place through increased visibility of this scholarship and its authors within their own institutions and globally. Hence, the Global Feminisms Collaborative is committed to working transinstitutionally, with global partners, national partners, Nashville partners and Vanderbilt partners in order to develop the field of Global Feminisms in research and teaching. In addition, we are committed to reflecting on our work and the way we work as a practice of the ethical commitments of global feminism.

The core of the project is a research group. Members of the group with an existing expertise in global feminism or with a research or teaching strength in an area important to the purpose of the project have been developing the Global Feminisms Collaborative.

Social and Political Thought Workshop

There are many ways for graduate students to participate actively in the intellectual life of Vanderbilt more generally.  For example, students can participate and attend the Social and Political Thought Workshop (2016-2017 schedule) which convenes several times a semester and welcomes presenters from both the university and visitors.  The topics range widely, so there is certainly something of interest for many students.

Upcoming Events

Housed at the Law School is the Vanderbilt Climate Change Network, which consists in a team of faculty and graduate students who are conducting theoretical and applied research on one of the most important and most widely overlooked sources of greenhouse gases: individual and household behavior. The Climate Change Research Network is affiliated with the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment.

TIES: Transdisciplinary Initiative on Environmental Systems

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences collaborated to create TIES, a program that involves faculty and students from the natural sciences, engineering, and key social disciplines, including the social sciences, the humanities, law, and education. The centerpiece of this initiative is a unique transdisciplinary course that focuses each year on an environmental issue that is of global significance, and which is embodied in a particular field site to be studied by participants. This capstone course is required of all environmental sciences Ph.D. students and includes a field study at the case site. The course is next offered in 2013-2014 and is open to graduate students in all disciplines.

Download the article, "Water Works" which features Professor Ackerly with a team of students and fellow faculty members in Bangladesh working on the relationship between water, culture, and social justice.

–Professor Ackerly’s Former and Current Students–

Anna Carella
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Anna's graduate student
page -here- and blog -here-

Anna's report has been featured in TIME magazine.

Anna was presented with the Rising Star Award on the 68th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Tennessee's Human Rights Commission among others.
Farhana Loonat
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Winner of the 2011 Best Teaching Assistant Award in the College of Arts and Sciences

Farhana's graduate student page -here-
Stacy Clifford
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Dissertation: "The Disabled Contract: Social Contract Theory and
Cognitive Disability"

Stacy's graduate student page -here-.
Sonalini Sapra, Political Science '09

At Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IL

Sonalini's faculty page can be found -here-.
Lyndi Hewitt-Corzine, Sociology '09

At University of North Carolina, Ashville

Dissertation: "The Politics of Transnational
Feminist Discourse: Framing
across Differences, Building Solidarities"

Lyndi's faculty page can be found

Katherine Attanasi, Religion '09

At Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA

Katy's faculty page can be found -here-.
Sarah Suiter
Community Research and Action '09

At Vanderbilt University

Author of
Magdalene House, A Place About Mercy
Eleanor Fleming, Political
Science '06

Epidemic Intelligence Service Office
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Darcy Freedman
University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Darcy's faculty page can be found -here-.


The following list is the current graduate course rotation schedule:

  • PSCI 301: Human Rights (offered every 2 to 3 years)
  • WGS 301: Graduate Seminar for the Gender Certificate, offered annually in rotation with other WGS affiliated faculty.
  • PSCI 305: Feminist Theory in Social and Political Thought (offered spring 2013)
  • PSCI 308: Human Rights and Religion – a graduate seminar co-taught with Melissa Snarr, Vanderbilt Divinity School (offered Spring 2011)

–Job Openings–

The University of Amsterdam has a job opening in political theory (tenure-track), with an emphasis on gender theory. – (1/22/2017)


The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities offers graduate student fellowships.  Each award includes tuition, health insurance, a stipend of $24,250, a research budget of $2,000, and affiliation with the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. The competition is open to those students in the humanities and qualitative social sciences in the College of Arts and Science.  You can find application information –here-.


Here are some helpful articles and reflections on publishing as a graduate student (or turning your dissertation into a book):

  • Sandy Thatcher has some excellent articles on the state of publishing books in political theory, as well as an excellent reflection on the difficulties and challenges of turning your dissertation into a book, “From the University Presses-Dissertation into Books? The Lack of Logic in the System.”  He has been the director or consultant for many university publishing presses (Penn State University Press, University Press of Florida, University of Rochester Press), and has helped launch the careers of many now renown political theorists and scientists:Hadley Arkes, Charles Beitz, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Nannerl Keohane, Martha Nussbaum, Susan Moller Okin, and Iris Marion Young.

Comparative Political Theory