Institute for Social Justice

Academic Staff

Professor Romand Coles

Professor Romand Coles

Romand Coles is a scholar-activist who works at the intersections of continental and critical philosophy, radical democratic theory, and various modes of political organizing and activism.  Some of the central themes in his published work include: receptive generosity, dialogical ethics, and radical democracy; religion, secularism and pluralization; ecological thought and transformative action in the face of planetary catastrophe; social movements, protest, and broad-based political organizing; democratic educational transformation for commonwealth; action research and pedagogy; aesthetics and politics; and critical cosmopolitanism from below.  Before coming to the Institute for Social Justice, he served as the McAllister Endowed Chair and Director of the Program for Community, Culture, and Environment at Northern Arizona University, where he co-led a prominent initiative for educational transformation around grassroots democracy and sustainability.  During the two decades prior to that, he taught political theory and engaged in radical democratic political organizing at Duke University.   

His books include Visionary Pragmatism:  Radical Ecological Democracy (forthcoming, Duke University Press, 2015); Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary:  Conversations between a Radical Democrat and a Christian, with Stanley Hauerwas (Wipf and Stock, 2007); Beyond Gated Politics:  Reflections for the Possibility of Democracy (University of Minnesota Press, 2005); Rethinking Generosity:  Critical Theory and the Politics of Caritas (Cornell University Press, 1997); and Self/Power/Other: Political Theory and Dialogical Ethics (Cornell University Press, 1992).  He is the co-editor (with Mark Reinhardt and George Shulman) of Radical Future Pasts:  Untimely Political Theory (University of Kentucky Press, 2015).

He is currently working on three books, tentatively titled Democratic and Ecological Pedagogy, Action Research, and Institutional Change in Higher Education (with Blasé Scarnati), Poetics and the Musicality of Radical Democracy (with Lia Haro) and Of Line Drawing and Web Weaving: Politics of Transformation.



  • Articles

    “The new environmentalism of everyday life: Sustainability, material flows and movements” in Contemporary Political Theory advance online publication 30 June 2015; doi: 10.1057/cpt.2015.34

    “Ecotones and the Arts of Radical Ecclesia and Radical Democracy:  Reflections on Occupy Religion”, in Syndicate (October, 2014).

    “Transforming the Game:  Democratizing the Publicness of Higher Education and Commonwealth in Neoliberal Times”, in New Political Science (October, 2014)

    “It’s the ‘We’, Stupid”, or Reflections toward an Ecology of Radical Democratic Theory and Practices”, inTheory and Event (Vol. 16  Issue 1, March, 2013)

    “Democratic Populism and Transformations in Higher Education”, in Political Economy of  the Good Society (Vol. 21, No. 2, 2012)

    “The Neuropolitical Habitus Resonant Receptive Democracy”, in Ethics and Global Politics (December, 2011)

    “Supporting Students through Community Connections”, with Blasé Scarnati, in Diversity and Democracy: Civic Learning For Shared Futures (Fall, 2011).

    “The Wild Peace not of John Howard Yoder:  Reflections on Nonviolence” (Conrad Grebel Review (Fall, 2011).

    “Long Live the Weeds and the Wilderness Yet: Reflections on A Secular Age”, with Stanley Hauerwas, Modern Theology (July, 2010).       

    “Collaborative Governance and Civic Empowerment: A Discussion of Investing in Democratic Engagement”, Perspectives on Politics (June 2010).

    “This Song is Old, But is it True? Reflections on Obama and Democratic Virtues”, The Immanent Frame On-line Journal and Blog, June, 2009.

    “Awakening to the Call of Receptive Democratic Progress”, Journal of Political Economy of the Good Society (September, 2008).

    “Of Tensions and Tricksters: Grassroots Democracy Between Theory and Practice”, Perspectives on Politics (September, 2006).

    “Radical Democracy and Theology: Considering Stout’s Democracy and Tradition” in Modern Theology (April, 2005).

    “Moving Democracy: IAF Social Movements and the Art of Listening, Travelling, and Tabling”, Political Theory (October, 2004).

    “Contesting Cosmopolitan Currencies: The Nepantilist Rose in the Crossing of the Present”, Nepantla (Spring, 2003).

    “The Wild Patience of John Howard Yoder: Outsiders and the Otherness of the Church”, Modern Theology (July, 2002).

    Traditio: Chicana Feminism and the Torn Virtues of Democratic Engagement”, Political Theory (August, 2001).   

    “Of Democracy, Discourse, and Dirt Virtue: Developments in Recent Critical Theory”, Political Theory (October, 2000).

    “Toward an Uncommon Commonwealth: Reflections on Boyte’s Critique of Civil Society”, Political Economy of the Good Society (Fall, 1999).

    “Liberty, Equality, Receptive Generosity:  Neo-Nietszchean Reflections on the Ethics and Politics of Coalition”, American Political Science Review (June, 1996).

    “Storied Others and the Possibility of Caritas: Milbank and Neo-Nietzschean Ethics”, Modern Theology (October, 1992).

    “Communicative Action and Dialogical Ethics: Habermas and Foucault” Polity (Fall,1992).

    “Foucault’s Dialogical Ethos”, Theory, Culture and Society (May, 1991).

    “Shapiro, Genealogy, Ethics”, Political Theory (November, 1989).

  • Books

    Visionary Pragmatism:Receptive Resonance, Circulation, and the Dynamics of Transformation (under contract and forthcoming, Duke University Press, 2015)

    Radical Future Pasts of Political Theory, eds., Romand Coles, Mark Reinhardt, and George Shulman (University of Kentucky Press, 2014)

    Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations Between a Radical Democrat and a Christianwith Stanley Hauerwas (Wipf and Stock, 2007).

    Beyond Gated Politics: Reflections for the Possibility of Democracy (University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

    Rethinking Generosity: Critical Theory and the Politics of Caritas (Cornell University Press, 1997).

    Self/Power/Other: Political Theory and Dialogical Ethics.(Cornell University Press, 1992). 

  • Book Chapters

    “Catalyzing Transformative Community Partnerships with Institutions of Higher Education”, Cambridge Handbook on Service Learning and Community Engagement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2016).

    “Beyond Enclosure: Pedagogy for a Democratic Commonwealth”, co-authored with Blase Scarnati in Higher Education Exchange, (forthcoming 2015).

    “Environmental Political Theory and Environmental Action Research Teams”, Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2015).

    “Transformational Ecotones: The Craftsperson Ethos and Higher Education, Democracy’s Education, ed. Harry Boyte (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014)

    “Radical Future Pasts? An Anti-Introduction”, with Mark Reinhardt and George Shulman, in Radical Future Pasts of Political Theory, eds., Romand Coles, Mark Reinhardt, and George Shulman (University of Kentucky Press, 2014)

    “Journeys to Farther Shores:Intersecting Movements of Poetics, Politics and Theory Beyond Utopia”, co-authored with Lia Haro, in The Aesthetic Turn in Political Thought, ed. Nikolas Kompridis (Bloomsbury Press, 2014).

    “Civic Engagement, Liberal Studies, and Vocational Education: Institutional Transformation in Higher Education”, co-authored with Blase Scarnati, Research Paper Series, Kettering Foundation, 2013).

    “Neuroscience and Resonant Receptive Democratic Politics”, in Essays on Neuroscience and Politics, ed. Frank Vandervalk (Routledge, 2012).

    “ To Make This Emergence Articulate: The Beautiful, the Tragic-Sublime, the Good, and the Shapes of Common Practice”, Naming Goodness, Judging Goodness, ed. Ruth Grant (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

    “The Hunger, Ethics, and the University: A Radical Democratic Goad in Ten Pieces”, in Debating Moral Education, eds. Peter Euben and Elizabeth Kiss (Duke University Press, 2009).

    “The Wild Patience of Radical Democracy: Beyond Zizek and Lack”, Radical Democracy Between Abundance and Lack, ed., Lars Tonder (Manchester University Press, 2005).

    “Pluralization and Radical Democracy: Recent Developments in Critical Theory and Postmodernism”, in Political Science State of the Discipline (APSA), ed. Ira Katznelson and Helen V. Milner (Routledge Press, 2002).

    “Identity and Difference in the Ethico-Political Positions of Adorno and Habermas”, inCambridge Companion to Habermas, ed. Steven K. White (Cambridge University Press, 1995).

    “Ecotones and Ecological Ethics: Adorno and Lopez”, in In The Nature of Things: Language, Politics, and the Environment, ed. J. Bennett and W. Chaloupka (University of Minnesota Press, 1993).

    “The New Environmentalism of Everyday Life:  Sustainability, Material Flows, and Movement”, with David Schlosberg (forthcoming, Contemporary Political Theory).