Susan Liebell, Ph.D.
Dirk Warren '50 Sesquicentennial Chair and Professor
My research, teaching, and media work connect political theory, public law and contemporary politics. My research sits at the intersection of law, history, and democratic theory. As a national expert on the Second Amendment, my scholarship on how gun rights and regulations affect democratic citizenship has appeared in both academic (Journal of Politics, Polity) and public facing venues (Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, Washington Post) – and I’ve presented my work at Duke, Columbia, Rutgers, George Washington, Brennan Center for Justice, and the American Political Science Association and Association for Political Theory annual conferences. My passion for teaching translates into lively lectures and innovative simulations for my courses in political theory, public law, and ideology and film – as well as supervision of independent research for Summer Scholars and other students. My award-winning teaching has been featured in the Washington Post. As the co-host of the New Books in Political Science podcast on the New Books Network, I interview scholars on cutting edge research in political science, history, and law. As an expert providing television and radio commentary, I enjoy translating cutting edge research in political science and law to public audiences. I proudly serve as the Dirk Warren ’50 Sesquicentennial Chair in Education and Social Sciences.
Developing programming has been another passion including the Justice and Ethics in the Law minor, Global Smarts Mentoring Program for World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, Legal Education Advancing Diversity, and revised Pre-Law Advising program. I have proudly served as the chair of the Association for Political Theory’s Standing Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
I enjoy hiking, biking on the D&R Canal, knitting, reading novels, and all things political. An internship with Governor Mario Cuomo led to running the research department and internships program. I knit Andrew Cuomo a hat. I particularly love events with students (e.g. hearing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and going to dinner to chat about it). If you read one of the books that I mention in class, I’ll buy you lunch to discuss it.
- M.A. and Ph.D., The University of Chicago
- B.A., Queens College of the City University of New York
Dr. Liebell has taught courses in political theory and public law at SJU since 2004. She has also taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Haverford College, and Rutgers University. Before becoming a professor, she worked in New York State government as the Associate Director of Research for Governor Mario M. Cuomo and as a fellow in education policy.
- “BLM V. #BLM: The Dangers of the New Armed Rebellion Narrative,” The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. June 29, 2021.
- “Sensitive Places: Originalism, Gender, and the Myth Self-Defense in District of Columbia v. Heller.” Polity online (12/1/20) and print 53, no. 3 (July 2021): 207-238.
- “Why even diehard originalists aren’t really originalists.” The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog. October 21, 2020.
- “Popish Plots, Playing Cards, and Political Theory,” in Against Popery: Britain, Empire, and Anti-Catholicism edited by Evan Haefeli, University of Virginia Press, 2020. Co-authored with Andrew Murphy and Gregory Zucker.
- “100 Years of Political Spectacle: Women, Political Protest, and the White House.” History News Network, George Washington University. Co-authored with Bernadette Crehan. May 17, 2020.
- “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground.” Journal of Politics online (4/24/20) and print 82, no. 3 (July 2020): 955-966.
- Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship, Routledge Press, 2014.
- “Rethinking Dover : Religion, Science, and the Values of Democratic Citizenship.” Politics & Religion, August 2012, Vol. 5; No. 3.
- “The Text and Context of “Enough and as Good”: John Locke as the Foundation of an Environmental Liberalism.” Polity, April 2011; Vol. 43; No. 2.
- “Lockean Switching: Imagination and the Production of Principles of Toleration.” Perspectives on Politics, December 2009; Vol. 7; No. 4, 823-836.
Dr. Liebell has received merit awards for advising, teaching, research, and service. She received a Michael J. Morris Scholarly Research Grant in 2017 and the Faculty Merit Award for Justice in 2016. She has received multiple summer research grants and curriculum grants. She received an Alma Ostrom and Leah Hopkins Awan Civic Education Fund Grant from the American Political Science Association Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs in 2017 and a Small Research Grant from the American Political Science Association in 2016.
She has been a fellow at The Walt Whitman Center for the Culture & Politics of Democracy, Rutgers University and the NYS Science and Technology Foundation.
Dr. Liebell's current research focuses on the Second Amendment. She has a forthcoming article on Stand Your Ground in the Journal of Politics and she recently completed an article on the connections between armed self-defense and gender in District of Columbia v. Heller. She argues that Heller threatens women's self-preservation and equal citizenship. She interrogates Justice Scalia's form of originalism and demonstrates how he ignores an important historical context -- common-law coverture (that allows men to rule their wives).