Alan Patten appointed as incoming director of the University Center for Human Values

April 29, 2024

Alan Patten, the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Politics, will serve as director of the University Center for Human Values, beginning July 1, 2024.

Patten, who has served as the chair of the Department of Politics for the past six years, will serve a four-year term as the University Center’s director, as announced recently by Dean of the Faculty Gene F. Jarrett on behalf of President Christopher L. Eisgruber. Patten previously served as acting director of the Center in 2012-13 and is a longtime member of the Center’s executive committee. 

A specialist in political theory, Patten is the author of Equal Recognition: The Moral Foundations of Minority Rights (Princeton University Press, 2014) and Hegel’s Idea of Freedom (Oxford University Press, 1999), which won the American Political Science Association’s First Book Prize in Political Theory and the C.B. Macpherson Prize awarded by the Canadian Political Science Association.  With Will Kymlicka, he co-edited the volume Language Rights and Political Theory (Oxford University Press, 2003).  He was editor of the journal Philosophy & Public Affairs from 2010-2017 and has published widely in a range of distinguished journals in political science, political theory, and philosophy. 

Patten holds a B.A. from McGill University, an M.A. from the University of Toronto, and an M.Phil. and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. 

“I am really excited to take on this new challenge, as the Center plays a unique role at Princeton,” said Patten. “People often feel confident that their own values are the right ones, and so they seldom engage in reasoning about the many moral disagreements that exist in our society today. Rigorous discussions of value questions tend to be pushed into the margins of academic discussion. The Center for Human Values brings together a talented group of faculty, post-docs, visitors and students who engage in such discussions from a diverse range of perspectives. As the incoming director, I look forward to fostering and showcasing these important discussions.”

Patten will succeed Melissa Lane, the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics, who has served as the Center’s director since 2016 and chose to conclude her service at the end of her second term.

Lane welcomed the news of Patten’s appointment, saying, “Alan Patten has served with distinction as a University leader, and his dedication to the mission of the University Center is longstanding.  I look forward to his wise and thoughtful guidance of the Center in the coming years.”