The Centre – originally called The Centre for the History of Political Thought – was founded in 1997, in memory of Henry Tudor, Senior Lecturer in Politics, who died while on a visiting professorship in the United States. The idea was first proposed by Dr R.W. Dyson, a former student of Henry Tudor’s. The other founding members were Dr Ian Adams, Dr Julia Stapleton, and Dr Peter Stirk.
Appointed to the department in 1962, Henry Tudor had established the study of political thought as a central part of the Durham politics curriculum. Under his guidance, the Department of Politics (as it then was) became one of the few university departments in the UK where students were able to explore the historical continuity of European political cultures by engaging with the whole range of political ideas from the ancient world down to the twentieth century. The Centre was created in the first instance to foster research, to host two annual lectures to be given by distinguished visiting speakers – the Henry Tudor Memorial Lecture and the Alan Milne Memorial Lecture – and to publish, in collaboration with Thoemmes Press, a series of scholarly editions called Primary Sources in Political Thought.
The Centre has developed to accommodate contemporary political philosophy alongside the history of political thought and changed its name to the ‘Centre for Political Thought’ to reflect this expansion in focus. Many of the centre’s members span both parts of the center’s remit: bringing historical ideas to bear on contemporary dilemmas.
The centre has a director and deputy director. They take up their roles for a 3 year term. The centre has an annual meeting where the years activities and the future direction of the centre is discussed. Decisions are democratic and we try to reach a consensus on issues of importance. Membership is open to all those who regularly attend centre events and is not restricted to full time academic staff. We fill the positions of director and deputy director through a vote of the centre members.
Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonisation
The centre is committed to continuing to engage with historically marginalised perspectives, alternative framings of research problems, and innovative methodologies, along with voices critical of more dominant framings, problems, and methodologies.
Over time we will seek to maintain diversity in the management of the political theory leadership team in terms of: approach to political theory, gender, ethnicity, nationality, class, sexuality and any other relevant nexus of discrimination. Enhancing leadership diversity will be one of our criteria in selecting leadership for the group. We will explicitly seek to avoid the centre director, deputy director and political theory education lead all falling into the same more privileged social group. In selecting our leadership team we will also examine the current composition of research committee and seek to diversify it where this is feasible. We will also seek, where this is feasible, to diversify the makeup of SGIA leadership more generally with our selections. To help enable this the current director will present a short (500 word maximum) report on the current makeup of research committee, school management and political theory leadership more generally at the selection meeting.