Timothy Tennyson

Position title: Ph.D. Candidate: Political Theory | American Politics

Email: ttennyson@wisc.edu

Website | CV

Research Interests

History of Political Thought, Civic Education, Modern and Contemporary Liberalism, Liberal Education Theory


Tim is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research centers on civic education and citizenship in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory. In particular, he is interested in the pedagogical, moral, and political assumptions that inform past and present conceptions of the scope and function of civic education in liberal-democratic states. While he is trained in political theory and the history of political thought, his research is interdisciplinary and engages with questions relevant to a broad audience concerned with the conceptual underpinnings of liberal-democratic citizenship. Tim’s work has been published in the History of Political Thought and the European Journal of Political Theory.

Tim graduated from Carthage College with a B.A. (summa cum laude) in Political Science in 2017. He also spent a year (2017-2018) teaching English and Western Culture at the Foreign Business and Trade College of Chongqing Normal University in China.


“Fostering Freedom: Judgment in Early-Modern Liberal Educational and Political Thought”

This project seeks to locate an alternative to autonomy—as a guiding standard of liberal education theory—that accommodates the limits of human cognition and the demands of liberal citizenship. To do so, it addresses a neglected early modern discourse on individual freedom that privileges judgment as a civic-educational outcome. I examine three thinkers—Locke, Rousseau, and Smith—who each develop a framework for the cultivation of judgment that focuses on the individual’s ability to make informed decisions and engage in self-directed behavior. The concept of judgment that emerges from this study can serve as an alternative benchmark for liberal education theory.

List of Publications

Tennyson, Timothy T. and Michelle Schwarze. 2023. “An Honest Man? Rousseau’s Critique of Locke’s Character Education.” European Journal of Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1177/14748851231153567

Tennyson, Timothy T. 2022. “Cicero’s Romulus and the Crafting of Historical Exempla.” History of Political Thought, Vol. 43, No.1.

Courses Taught

PS 461: Education, Inequality, and Citizenship in the History of Political Thought [Interdisciplinary Seminar in Philosophy, Economics, and History] (Spring 2022, Spring 2023)

TA for

Political Science 463: Deception and Politics, Fall 2023

Political Science 160: Introduction to Political Theory, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

Political Science 360: History of American Political Thought, Fall 2021


Institute for Humane Studies Junior Fellowship, Summer 2023

Institute for Humane Studies Graduate Sabbatical Grant, Fall 2022

Institute for Humane Studies Fellowship, Summer 2019, Summer 2020, Fall 2021

Political Science Summer Initiative Scholarship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2019-23

Guy Black Political Science Graduate Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2018-19


Daniel J. Kapust, Professor of Political Science, UW-Madison

Tel. 608.263.9429, Email: djkapust@wisc.edu

Michelle Schwarze, Associate Professor of Political Science, UW-Madison

Tel. 608.358.7228, Email: mschwarze@wisc.edu

Richard Avramenko, Professor of Political Science, UW-Madison

Tel. 608.263.2292, Email: avramenko@wisc.edu

Adam Nelson, Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History, UW-Madison

Tel. 608.236.2929, Email: adam.nelson@wisc.edu