American Politics

United States Capitol

The study of American politics and government at Oxford has a distinguished heritage. Herbert Nicholas, the first Rhodes Professor of American History, was a sophisticated observer of post-war American politics. Other leading scholars of the subject have included Philip Williams and David Goldey, whose research focused on American parties and elections; and Byron Shafer, the first holder of the Andrew Mellon Chair of American Government, the author of numerous path-breaking studies of American partisan and electoral orders.

The current Andrew Mellon Professor of American Government is Desmond King, an expert on American political development and the author of many works on labour markets, race, immigration, and ethnicity. Each year, the RAI also welcomes the John G. Winant Visiting Professor of American Government, whose visiting chair has been held by many of the most distinguished scholars of American politics and government. The current holder, in 2020-21, is Professor Robert Lieberman (Johns Hopkins University). Oxford is also home to a vibrant community of graduate students working on American politics.

In election years we run high-profile series for the general public. In the 2020-21 year we organised a series called America Decides, followed by a series on The Future of American Politics. Both series featured leading thinkers, historians, political scientists, journalists, and politicians debating the ideas, the trends, and the people that shaped the election and will shape the next era of American politics. Both series were organised by RAI Fellow Dr. Mitch Robertson. Click on the series titles to watch the events on our RAI Youtube channel.



"The RAI has a very special role to play in intellectual affairs, as the premier international institution for the study and interpretation of public life in the United States. The Institute provides a place to look broader and think deeper about 'the American way' and its place in the wider world." Professor Byron E. Shafer, Hawkins Chair of Political Science, University of Wisconsin