Political theory has customarily consisted of the history of political thought and normative/systematic political theory, with the latter divided between Anglo-American and continental approaches, although this divide has eased in recent years.
Globalization has brought a sharp increase in interest in non-Western styles of political theory, in issues of constitutionalism and democracy across the globe, in global justice, and in comparative political theory. Columbia's political theory section is particularly strong in the history of political thought, in analytical political theory, in legal theory, constitutionalism, democratic theory, theories of human rights, and theories of justice. The group also has strength in the burgeoning new field of comparative political theory.
The department’s theory section is one of the leading groups in the country.