Susan P. Liebell Ph.D
- M.A. and Ph.D., The University of Chicago
- B.A., Queens College of the City University of New York
Susan P. Liebell joined the faculty of Saint Joseph’s University in Fall 2003. Dr. Liebell’s major fields of study are the history of political thought, environmental politics, and constitutionalism. She is particularly interested in the intellectual origins of liberal democracy, American political thought, and green political theory. Dr. Liebell’s research and courses aim to demonstrate the connections between political theory and current political issues. She maintains that studying debates about rights, justice, or representation in the 18th century can help us better understand current debates concerning civil liberties, the death penalty or affirmative action. In addition to courses in political theory, Dr. Liebell has taught politics and the novel, political economy, U.S. Congress, law and social change, constitutional law, and academic and professional writing.
Dr. Liebell's current book project, Activating Liberal Rights: Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Political Identity, examines the controversy over Intellident Design in Dover, Pennsylvania. The book directs us to look at Intelligent Design as a challenge of citizenship rather than as religion that we can exclude. Americans miss the mark if they ask “is it tolerable in a multi-faith society to mention Intelligent Design in a public school?” Defendingagainst religion depends upon a constitutional ‘wall of separation’ between religion and the state. Yet such an approach neglects the substance of a liberal political identity reinforced by public education. A more promising strategy suggests that the teaching evolution is essential to liberal democratic practice and values. Courts and contemporary political theorists lack an effective defense of science education or even an effective vocabulary to frame the debate. This book supplies a discourse that advocates teaching science rather than explaining why Intelligent Design should be excluded as religion. Because science is a key component of modern liberalism, liberals can and should explicitly justify science education generally and the teaching of evolution specifically as crucial to three aspects of the liberal person: political citizenship, economic fitness, and moral choice.
POL 111 Introduction to American Government & Politics syllabus
POL 117 Introduction to Political Thought syllabus
POL 117 Introduction to Political Thought syllabus (Freshman Seminar open only to Political Science majors) Political theorists ask questions about justice, equality, law, property, community, and duty. This course examines the foundations of political thought in Greece (Plato, Aristotle), the influence of Christian thinking in the middle ages (Augustine, Aquinas), the Renaissance challenge to Christian thought (Machiavelli), the development of popular sovereignty and rights (Hobbes), the influence of liberal norms of equality, tolerance, and freedom (Locke), the development of liberal institutions (Hume, Smith, Madison), the critique of liberalism (Rousseau, Taylor), and the 20th and 21st century innovations of post-modernism (Foucault) and feminism.
American Government and Politics Courses POL 311 Constitutional Law: Civil Rights & Liberties (writing intensive course) syllabus This course acquaints you with the evolving opinions and doctrines of the United States Supreme Court that focus on the civil liberties of individuals and groups. The course and discussions will emphasize lines of cases with particular relevance to today's political controversies: the civil liberties of the post-September 11th detainees, the use of secret courts, same-sex marriage, and abortion. Thus, you will be encouraged to apply your historical understanding of court doctrine to current controversies in the law in your papers, briefs, and class comments.
POL 312 Law and Social Change (writing intensive course )syllabus Can courts effectively generate social change? What are the advantages and limits of using the law to effect social change? This class uses cases and case studies to examine the relationship between law and society. In the last fifty years, groups attempting to affect social change have turned to the courts as an effective source of authority when they find themselves disadvantaged by the larger political system. To what extent has this approach been successful? While constitutional law emphasizes the logic of the opinion, this course will look beyond the decisions of the Supreme Court focusing instead on the implementation process and the actions of lower courts in interpreting the Supreme Court’s decisions. We will look at problems of implementation, the actual benefits received by affected parties, and the relationship between the federal government, the states, and public opinion. Case studies will include: school integration, abortion, pay equity for women, death penalty, and single-sex unions and marriage.
POL 328 Environmental Politics in America (writing intensive course) syllabus This course analyzes environmental politics in the United States through a careful examination of institutions. We begin by debating the "proper" relationship between humans and the natural world considering the meaning of terms like environmentalism, conservationism, preservationism, deep ecology, eco-racism, and eco-feminism. We examine the rise of environmentalism in America, moving from the progressive conservationism of Teddy Roosevelt through the environmentalism of Earth Day and the 1970s to the present era. The course uses recent works in political science to establish the actors in environmental decision-making and implementation as we consider federalism and state environmental policy, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, markets and free trade, the Presidency, Congress, the Bureaucracy, and the Courts.
Political Thought Courses POL 302 Modern Political Thought writing intensive course syllabus This course traces the development of liberal democratic government from the establishment of dependence on the people for legitimate power (Machiavelli) and political equality (Hobbes) to the development of representation and limited government (Locke, Montesquieu, Hume). We will explore the expansion of liberal rights (Wollestonecraft, Mill, Rawls) and critiques of liberal rights (Rousseau, Burke, Marx, Pateman, MacIntyre).
POL 303 American Political Thought syllabus This course introduces students to classic texts in American Political Thought (the revolution, constitutional convention, Lincoln-Douglas debates) by linking them to other important intellectual and political movements (suffrage, abolition, and civil rights). We explore the idea of two "foundings": the forging of the Revolution and the framing of the Constitution in the eighteenth century and the community oriented religious movements of the 17th century. How can we compare the principles in discourses or assertions of citizenship in these various movements? How do they contribute to our political vocabulary today?
POL 407 Seminar on Theories of Justice in the 21st Century syllabus This political theory seminar examines some of the major theories of justice available to political theorists in the 21st century. We begin with an in depth reading of the work that has defined justice in the 20th and 21st centuries: John Rawls? A Theory of Justice. We will also read selections from Rawls? Political Liberalism and his work on international justice, The Law of Peoples. In order to consider alternative theories of justice and criticisms of Rawls, we will read classic critical commentaries in the form of articles and book chapters from Michael Walzer, Michael Sandel, Alistair MacIntyre, Ronald Dworkin, Susan Okin, Robert Nozick, Brian Barry, Amartya Sen, and James Fishkin.
"Lockean Switching: Imagination and the Production of Principles of Toleration." Perspectives on Poiitics, December 2009; Vol. 7; No. 4, 823-836.
“Rethinking Dover: Religion, Science, and the Values of Democratic Citizenship.” Politics & Religion, August 2012, Vol. 5; No. 3.