The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Ran Hirschl

ProfessorPh.D., Yale University

Professor of Government & Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair in Law


Public law, comparative constitutionalism, constitutional and judicial politics


As of Fall ’21, Ran Hirschl (Ph.D., Yale University) is Professor of Government and the Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair in Law. He studies constitutional law and constitutional institutions and their intersection with comparative politics and society. He is the author of several major books including City, State: Constitutionalism and the Megacity (Oxford University Press, 2020); Comparative Matters: The Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press, 2014)—winner of the 2015 American Political Science Association (APSA) Herman Pritchett Award for the best book on law and courts; Constitutional Theocracy (Harvard University Press, 2010)—winner of the 2011 Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory; and Towards Juristocracy: The Origins and Consequences of the New Constitutionalism (Harvard University Press, 2004)—winner of the 2021 American Political Science Association (APSA) Law & Courts Section Lasting Contribution Award, as well as over 120 articles and book chapters on comparative public law, published in social science journals (Comparative Politics, Political Theory, Political Research Quarterly, Law & Social Inquiry, Journal of Political Philosophy, Constellations, Human Rights Quarterly, Revue Française de Science Politique, Annual Review of Political Science, Annual Review of Law and Social Science), law reviews (e.g. the University of Chicago Law Review, Texas Law Review, Harvard International Law Journal, American Journal of Comparative Law, and the International Journal of Constitutional Law) and in agenda-setting edited collections (e.g. The Cambridge Companion to Comparative Constitutional Law, The Oxford Handbook of Political Science, The Social and Political Foundations of Constitutions, The Future of Economic and Social Rights).

Professor Hirschl has won academic excellence awards in five different countries; and has attracted over $7.5 million in competitive research grants, including, Canada Research Chair in Constitutionalism, Democracy and Development, Killam Research Fellowship awarded by the Canada Council of the Arts, Max Planck Fellow Group Award, and most recently a coveted Alexander von Humboldt International Research Award—the most highly-endowed research award in Germany. He is the recipient of a University of Toronto teaching award and the APSA & Pi Sigma Alpha certificate for outstanding teaching in political science. Hirschl is also co-editor of Cambridge University Press book series on comparative constitutional law and policy.  He served as co-president of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S); held distinguished visiting professorships at Harvard, NYU, the University of Göttingen, and at the National University of Singapore, and delivered many keynote addresses and endowed lectures in four corners of the world.

His work on comparative constitutional law has been translated into various languages (from French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish to Turkish, Hebrew and Mandarin), discussed in numerous scholarly fora, cited by jurists and in high court decisions worldwide, and addressed in media venues from the New York Times to the Jerusalem Post. Professor Hirschl is Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC)—the highest academic accolade in that country. The official citation describes him as “one of the world’s leading scholars of comparative constitutional law, courts and jurisprudence.”


GOV 384N • Smnr: Const Crts/High Politics

39190 • Fall 2021
Meets T 3:45PM-5:45PM JON 6.206
(also listed as LAW 397S)

Constitutional courts and transnational tribunals worldwide have become a central forum for dealing with contentious political questions that define and divide entire nations. This seminar offers an opportunity for students to engage with cutting-edge research concerning this global trend—arguably one of the most significant developments in late-20th and early 21st century government. It combines the comparative study of landmark court rulings concerning key political matters with exploration of pertinent social science research concerning the global expansion of constitutionalism and judicial review, modes of constitutional reasoning and judicial decision-making, and political clashes over courts and judicial power. Among the issues covered are the engagement of constitutional courts and constitutional jurisprudence worldwide with democracy, elections and the political process; dilemmas of collective identity; ethno-nationalist populism and constitutional retrogression; secession and self-determination; religion and diversity; equality; economic and social rights; and restorative justice. Evaluation will be based on participation, a short integrative comment paper, and a final seminar paper.

This seminar will be offered through the School of Law.  

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