Our contemporary political world is a complex one, characterized by both tremendous promise and enduring human misery. Political theory is a realm of intellectual inquiry where we examine our most basic concepts and definitions, engage in normative judgment of our existing systems of government, and articulate and defend a vision of the system of political organization we envision to be ideal. The goal of this course is to familiarize students with important themes within contemporary political theory and the ways in which they relate to the world in which we reside. We will accomplish this through surveying the most influential political theorists of our time. To the extent that this course has an overarching theme, it is a the issue of difference in contemporary political societies whether that difference is encountered in the form of ascriptive identities such as gender and ethnicity, or simply deep disagreements in a more ideological sense.