Michael Smith headshot
MS

Michael J. Smith

Associate Professor
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Politics
Office location and address
S396 Gibson Hall
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Education
Harvard University, Ph.D. in Political Science
Biography

Michael Joseph Smith is the Thomas C. Sorenson Professor of Political and Social Thought and Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. He grew up in Yonkers, New York, where he attended public schools. He was an undergraduate at Harvard University, receiving his B.A. in 1973. He was then awarded a British Government Marshall Scholarship to Oxford University and received a Master of Philosophy degree from Oxford in 1976. After serving as a Lecturer in Politics at Merton College, Oxford for two years, he returned to Harvard for his Ph.D., which he received in 1982. He then taught as an Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard, and came to the University of Virginia in 1986.

At Virginia he currently directs the interdisciplinary, undergraduate Program in Political and Social Thought, and from 1994-99 he directed the Politics Department’s Distinguished Majors program. He teaches courses on human rights, political thought, and on ethics and international relations; from 1988-99 he also taught in the Politics Honors program. In 1995, Professor Smith led a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar for college professors on Teaching Ethics and International Relations. He won the All-University Teaching Award in 2002. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York. In 2002-03, Prof. Smith was elected Chair of the University of Virginia Faculty Senate, and in 2003-04, President Casteen appointed him to co-chair the President’s Commission on Diversity and Equity.

Professor Smith is the author of Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger (LSU, 1987) and co-author and co-editor (with Linda B. Miller) of Ideas and Ideals (Westview, 1992). He has also written extensively on the ethical dilemmas raised by contemporary international politics, most recently contributing to the United Nations International Commission on Sovereignty and Intervention. With Stanley Hoffmann of Harvard University he is working on a long-term book project about human rights and the ethical dilemmas of modern international relations.

COLA 1500: College Advising Seminars
Credits: 1
COLA courses are 1-credit seminars capped at 18 first-year students, all of whom are assigned to the instructor as advisees. They are topically focused on an area identified by the faculty member; they also include a significant advising component centered on undergraduate issues (e.g., choosing a major, study abroad opportunities, undergraduate research, etc.). For detailed descriptions see http://college.as.virginia.edu/COLA
PLIR 2500: Special Topics in International Relations
Credits: 3
This course covers a variety of topics in the field of Politics and International Relations.
PLIR 3310: Ethics and Human Rights in World Politics
Credits: 3
How do issues of human rights and ethical choice operate in the world of states? Do cosmopolitan ideals now hold greater sway among states than traditional ideas of national interests during the Cold War? Considers ideas of philosophers like Thucydides and Kant in addition to concrete cases and dilemmas taken from contemporary international relations. Specific issues include defining human rights, 'humanitarian intervention,' just war theory, and the moral responsibilities of leaders and citizens.
PLIR 4310: Global Health and Human Rights
Credits: 3
Examines global health problems through the lens of human rights norms. Can the human rights movement motivate new approaches to disease prevention and the social determinants of health? The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa will be treated in depth. Prerequisites: PLIR 3310, a previous course in public health, or equivalent with instructor permission.
PST 4850: Core Seminar in Political and Social Thought I
Credits: 3
Study of great political and social thinkers and movements studied from a variety of disciplinary and genre viewpoints. Readings include classic texts, plays, novels, literature, current works of advocacy. Led by the program director, with occasional guest faculty; weekly response essays required. Prerequisite: PST major.
PST 4870: Core Seminar in Political and Social Thought II
Credits: 3
Continuation of PST 4850, with greater emphasis on contemporary works. Prerequisite: PST major.
PST 4980: Workshop in Thesis Research
Taken in the fourth year, this workshop offers discussion with PST faculty on their current research and continuing presentation of students' developing projects. (1 credit per term; graded C/NC) Prerequisite: PST major.
PST 4989: Workshop in Thesis Research
Credits: 1
Taken in the fourth year, this workshop offers discussion with PST faculty on their current research and continuing presentation of students' developing projects. (1 credit per term; graded C/NC) Prerequisite: PST major.
PST 4993: Independent Study in Poltical & Social Thought
Credits: 3
Student initiated independent study projects arranged with an individual faculty member, and approved by the Program Director. Written work is required.
PST 4998: Thesis in Political and Social Thought
Prepared with the advice of two faculty members, the fourth-year PST thesis is a substantial, independent, year-long project built upon the student's prior study in the program. Prerequisite: PST major.
PST 4999: Thesis in Political and Social Thought
Credits: 4
Prepared with the advice of two faculty members, the fourth-year PST thesis is a substantial, independent, year-long project built upon the student's prior study in the program. Prerequisite: PST major.
PLIR 5993: Selected Problems in International Relations
Credits: 1–3
Independent study, under faculty supervision, for intensive research on a specific topic. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.