What is APT?

The Association for Political Theory is a unique professional association. As the APSA and the APA do, this Association brings scholars together at an annual national conference and through its website. The Association differs from other professional groups by:

  • Focusing on political philosophy and political theory. APT is the only national conference dedicated to bringing scholars at all stages of their professional careers together solely to discuss work in political theory and political philosophy. Unlike the larger political science or philosophy conferences, political thought is at the center of our meetings and our organization.
  • Embracing diversity, including:
    • Serving scholars at different kinds of institutions. APT seeks to serve faculty from a wide variety of academic institutions, including both research- and teaching-oriented schools. Our choice of conference locations illustrates this commitment: we have met at liberal arts institutions as well as at large universities. Our program committees also make a conscious effort to include excellent work by scholars at less well-known colleges and universities.
    • Bringing together different approaches. APT was founded with the goal of bringing together scholars whose approaches, interests, assumptions, values, and backgrounds differ. A central aim of APT is to create a space in which scholars who may differ substantially can nevertheless come together in serious, civil deliberations and engage each other concerning their work and their understandings of politics, philosophy, and teaching.
    • Integrating ranks. APT also aims to bring together scholars at different stages in their careers. As a general rule, APT panels have four presentations, ideally combining junior and senior faculty presentations with papers by advanced graduate students. The conference also stages events of interest to participants at different points in their careers. By such means, we hope to allow graduate students to engage approaches not represented in their universities’ programs and, more broadly, to facilitate exchange among graduate students, junior scholars, and senior scholars.
    • Addressing both teaching and scholarship. APT is committed to promoting pedagogical reflection and to developing resources for teachers of political thought. Most APT conferences present a least one pedagogy workshop.
  • Committing to open, participatory governance. APT embraces open governance. Officers are term-limited, and our nominating and election procedures are very open. All members are welcome at the annual business meeting, where they have full voting rights and are free to raise questions and participate in debate over the Association’s direction. The ultimate authority in the Association rests with those willing to participate in our meetings, as outlined in our Constitution.
  • Creating enjoyable, open settings for intellectual socializing. The APT Conference is designed to be a serious interchange of ideas in an open, egalitarian, and fun setting. The character and structure of the conference promote socializing among the attendees. Our conferences include purely social activities, such as the annual “Theoretical Run/Walk.”
    • Encouraging cross- and interdisciplinary discussion. Although in 2009 about 60% of APT’s members held appointments in political science, a full 40% came from other disciplines. As part of its commitment to open inquiry, APT encourages philosophers and scholars in other disciplines to join and, when possible, conference panels combine scholars from different disciplines.
    • Emphasizing extended discussion and debate. A key element of the APT Conference has been its commitment to holding sessions that last two full hours, reserving 45-60 minutes of each session for open discussion and questions from the audience. To make this possible, the Association encourages presenters not to read their papers, but instead to present short summaries addressing their papers' key points and highlighting their works' broader significance. In addition, the Association welcomes experimental panel formats. Finally, each APT Conference includes common meals and receptions designed to encourage conferees to engage new acquaintances in discussion.
    • Pioneering digital pre-circulation and archiving. The Association promotes serious work and open debate via its pre-circulation and archiving requirement. We require all papers to be submitted to a password-protected online paper archive in advance of the conference. Attendees are encouraged to read papers before attending sessions or to consult them afterwards. Since presenters then need not read their papers, sessions can to move quickly to discussion, which we find more fruitful for both presenters and audiences. In addition, the paper archive allows members who cannot attend to read the papers and engage authors via email correspondence.
       
  • Eliminating or minimizing expenses. Our conference fees are very low, especially considering they include most meals. APT also charges no membership fees.
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