ASPECT is an innovative interdisciplinary PhD program at Virginia Tech. ASPECT (the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought) fosters a critical engagement between domains of inquiry in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts. Through its curriculum, research programs, pedagogical endeavors, and scholarly events, ASPECT brings together theoretical and empirical cross-disciplinary methodologies, concepts, salient issues, and analytical perspectives generated by ethical thought, cultural studies, political economy, social and political theory, intellectual history, critical world order studies, and aesthetics, performance arts and visual studies.

ASPECT currently offers a doctoral degree program and a certificate program for students enrolled in other graduate degree programs at Virginia Tech.

Residing in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and working closely with other colleges, centers, and academic units at Virginia Tech, ASPECT is a scholarly alliance among various departments and programs. Four core departments (History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religion and Culture) have been involved in the design and development of ASPECT, and faculty members from multiple fields of study and disciplines are ongoing participants in ASPECT’s curricular programs, its day-to-day governance, its intellectual life, and in the mentoring of ASPECT students.

ASPECT students conduct doctoral-level scholarly research and participate in graduate seminars, workshops, conferences, and lectures focusing on new and exciting theoretical and practical problems situated at the intersections of political theory, ethical philosophy, cultural studies, and intellectual history. As researchers in these fields of study, ASPECT students grapple with pressing issues such as state sovereignty, religion and politics, comparative ethics, radical democracy and pluralism, material culture, science and technology, corporate and non-corporate forms of globalization, identity and difference, environmental crises, global civil society, the ethics of space and place, international law, local and transnational perspectives on race, racialization, and nativism, bio-ethics and bio-power, the relationship between war, violence, and terror, gender and sexuality, media representations of social realities, or analytic approaches to power and justice. At the same time, ASPECT seeks to foster a theoretically minded return to broader (and perhaps more traditional) concerns with truth, virtue, morality, power, and violence and their productions and effects in and across states, societies, and cultures.

ASPECT doctoral students work closely with their faculty mentors at Virginia Tech to produce research that is theoretically innovative, critically relevant, and methodologically diverse yet rigorous. During the course of their study, ASPECT students are highly encouraged to showcase their work by presenting it at national and international colloquia and conferences and, when possible, by publishing it in meaningful and visible academic venues (including ASPECT’s own journal, Spectra).

Doctoral students who graduate from Virginia Tech’s ASPECT Program are well prepared, making them competitive for academic and research positions across various disciplines and fields of study, particularly in cross-disciplinary programs in the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and the Arts in the United States and throughout the world.


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