David J Kahane, Postdoc (Harvard), PhD (Cambridge), MA (McGill), BA (Concordia)

Professor, Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept


Professor, Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept
(780) 492-2164
10-27 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
T6G 2H4


Area of Study / Keywords

Systems change public participation anarchism climate change prefigurative politics


David Kahane is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta in Canada. His research and teaching focus on prefigurative politics, climate change, systems change, systemic design, public participation, power, and how these fit together in theory and practice. He is a national 3M teaching fellow, a permaculture gardener, and father to young Solomon.


David Kahane's research deals with theories and practices of democratic dialogue and deliberation, with particular focus on understanding the impact (or lack of impact) of innovative citizen participation processes given the complex systems in which they intervene. His publications in this vein include two edited volumes, Deliberative Democracy in Theory and Practice and Dispute Resolution in Aboriginal Contexts: Land Claims, Treaties, and Self-Government Agreements; and chapters and articles like “Climate change, social change, and systems change: Lessons from Alberta Climate Dialogue," "Norms and nature: deliberative democracy, systemic design, and participatory systems change," and "Designing more democratically, deliberating more systemically: A conversation between systemic design and democratic deliberation" (with Alex Ryan).

From 2010-2016 he was Principal Investigator and Project Director of Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD), a $1 million SSHRC-funded community-university research partnership that convened citizens in Alberta to deliberate on climate change policy, and learned from careful evaluation of these processes and their outcomes. 


David regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on prefigurative politics, participatory systems change, political theory, and history of political theory. He weaves participatory and deliberative methods into teaching/learning contexts, and has experimented with how meditation and contemplation can be used in the university classroom. He has won two national teaching awards (the 3M Teaching Fellowship and the Alan Blizzard Award for Collaborative Projects that Improve Student Learning) as well as the Rutherford Award for Undergraduate Teaching, the Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision, the Teaching Unit Award, and the Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Teaching Award. His teaching publications include “Mindfulness and Presence in Teaching and Learning” and “Learning about Obligation, Compassion, and Global Justice: the Place of Contemplative Pedagogy.”


POL S 212 - Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory

Explores how texts in contemporary western political theory help to deepen and diversify our understanding of current political themes like war, climate change, sex, work, or democratic reform. Not to be taken by students with credit in POL S 210. Prerequisite: POL S 101 or consent of Department.

Fall Term 2022

POL S 304 - Modern Political Theory

Diverse perspectives on rights, revolution, and democracy through the work of theorists like Burke, Wollstonecraft, de Tocqueville, Douglass, Marx, and Mill. Prerequisite: POL S 210 or 211 or 212 or consent of Department.

Fall Term 2022

POL S 305 - Contemporary Political Theory

Focuses on struggles over citizenship, the self, and social justice through the work of theorists like Arendt, Beauvoir, Freud, Fanon, Foucault, Rawls, and Tully. Prerequisite: POL S 210 or 211 or 212 or consent of Department.

Winter Term 2023

POL S 410 - Topics in Contemporary Political Theory

A critical examination of contemporary trends in political philosophy. A variable content course, which may be repeated if topics vary. Prerequisite: One of POL S 211, 212 (or 210) or Department consent.

Winter Term 2023

POL S 514 - Contemporary Political Theory

Winter Term 2023

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