Brooke Ackerly

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.

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 of 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 gasses: 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.


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

Check back for updates on openings and opportunities as they become available.


     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.

Professor Ackerly’s Former & Current Students

Anna Carella

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Anna’s graduate student page –here– and blog –hereAnna’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.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 10.00.33 PMFarhana Loonat

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

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

Awarded Tenure at Skagit Valley College in the Spring of 2017

clifford-stacyStacy Clifford

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Dissertation: “The Disabled Contract: Social Contract Theory and

Cognitive Disability”

sapraSonalini Sapra

Political Science ’09

At Saint Martin’s University, Lacey WA

Sonalini’s Faculty page here

CorzineLyndi 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 here-.

kattanasiKatherine Attanasi,

Religion ’09, 

At Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA

Sarah_Suiter1-590x852Sarah Suiter

Community Research and Action ’09

At Vanderbilt University

Author of

Magdalene House, A Place About Mercy

fleming-eleanor2Eleanor Fleming,

Political Science ’06

Epidemic Intelligence Service Office

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

freedmandarcy2-590x888Darcy Freedman

Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH

Darcy’s faculty page can be found –here-.