Field: Political Theory
Brian Walker studied at McGill University (BA and MA) with Charles Taylor and James Tully where his research focused on critical theory (especially Nietzsche, Marx, Walter Benjamin and Foucault) and on multiculturalism. At Columbia University, during his Ph.D. studies, he shifted his focus to Anglo-American analytic political thinking (dissertation on Rawls and Habermas) and to an engagement with the history of United States political thinking.
Professor Walker's recent research has focused on comparative political theory, especially on the comparison of U. S. and Chinese political thinking.
Walker's undergraduate classes received UCLA's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001. His version of PS10: An Introduction to Political Theory, (taught every second year) uses Aristotle, Confucius, Mill and Thoreau to spell out the connections between cultivation, individuality, learning and the maintenance of constitutional government. The follow-up course PS 115C, informally titled "Seven Pathways to Citizenship," uses case studies and historical examples to explore different modalities or "pathways" of citizenship: the citizen as public servant, as enlightened capitalist (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett), as environmental or civil right activist, the citizen as soldier. 114B, United States Political Thinking After 1865, explores the pros and cons of the main ideological positions in U.S. intellectual life and introduces students to the rich history of U.S. political thinking.
All these classes strive to be ideologically even-handed, to alternate liberal and conservative perspectives and to let students make up their own minds about their political beliefs.
At the graduate level Dr. Walker teaches courses on Chinese political philosophy (“Chinese Political Thought in English Translation”), on Anglo-American analytic philosophy (“Rawls and his Critics”), on critical theory (“The Frankfurt School Thinkers as Readers of Max Weber,” “Habermas, Luhmann and Schmitt on the Ontology of Law”), and on the philosophy of social science (Frameworks for Political Inquiry: Classics in Philosophy of the Social Science). He also occasionally teaches business ethics in UCLA's Anderson Business School (Making Decisions, Creating Character; Resources and Method in Business Ethics).