John Zumbrunnen

Position title: Professor and Director, American Democracy Forum | Political Theory


224 North Hall


Ph.D., Political Science, University of Minnesota, 2000

B.S., Political Science, Southwest Missouri State University, 1993

Research Interests:

American Political Thought, Ancient Political Theory, Comedy, Conservatism, Contemporary Political Theory, Democratic Theory, Education


John Zumbrunnen has wide-ranging interests in the history of political thought, democratic theory, and American political thought. Much of his published scholarship has been on ancient Greek political thought and its relevance for thinking about democracy today. He is also an UW Educational Innovation Senior Fellow, working in particular on issues surrounding online teaching and learning. A recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the Phi Beta Kappa Excellence in Teaching Award and the Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award, Zumbrunnen leads a short term summer study abroad program in Dublin and Belfast (“UW Rebels and Revolutions in Ireland”) and is working with partners to develop a study away program in Puerto Rico (“Ecological Restoration as Civic Engagement”).


PS 160: Introduction to Political Theory
PS 265: Development of Ancient and Medieval Western Political Thought
PS 360: History of American Political Thought
PS 361: Contemporary American Political Thought
PS 833: Topics in Ancient Political Thought


Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award, UW System, 2014-2015.
Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Academy, inducted Spring 2015.
Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin, 2014-2015
Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin, Madison. 2011-2012.
Meiklejohn-Powell Fellowship. Integrated Liberal Studies, University of Wisconsin. 2012.
University Housing Honored Instructor Award, University of Wisconsin. S2009, S2012, F2012, F2015, F2018


Hear from Professor Zumbrunnen on these episodes of the 1050 Bascom Podcast!