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David Thunder

Political Philosophy Researcher & Lecturer
Institute for Culture and Society
University of Navarra
Pamplona, Spain



MA & Ph.D in Political Science


MA in Philosophy


BA in French and Philosophy

University of Notre Dame

University College Dublin

University College Dublin

Academic Positions

Research Fellow



Visiting Assistant Professor


Visiting Assistant Professor


Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Junior Visiting Fellow


Visiting Assistant Professor

University of Navarra - Institute for Culture and Society

Villanova University - Department of Political Science 

Villanova University - Matthew J Ryan Center

Princeton University - James Madison Program, Dept of Politics

Witherspoon Institute, Princeton

Bucknell University - Department of Political Science

Skills & Experiences

Leadership & Project Management

Critical and Creative Thinking

Academic Writing and Publishing

Writing for popular audiences

Public Speaking

Conducting Media Interviews

Political Consulting

4 Languages

Video Editing (Adobe Premiere Pro)

Coordinated two academic edited volumes; served as Principal Investigator of a three year research project on governance and complexity

My research on polycentric governance aims to provide an ethical and normative account of polycentric institutions of self-government, incorporating insights from MacIntyrean social theory as well as federalism and bottom-up theories of institutional development.

I have published a monograph with Cambridge Univ. Press, two edited volumes, ten book chapters, and numerous articles in prominent peer reviewed journals like American Journal of Political Science, Political Theory and Journal of Business Ethics.

I write weekly on culture and current affairs in my Freedom Blog, and have written dozens of op eds for newspapers like The Irish Times and El Mundo, as well as online media like Spiked, Gript, Mercatornet, The Conversation, and The Clingendael Spectator.

I have extensive experience giving talks to both academic and general audiences, large and small, from Spain and France to the UK, United States, Mexico, and Chile.

I have conducted over 20 radio and podcast interviews, and two live TV interviews, on topics such as media diversity, populism, pandemic measures, and freedom of speech.

I have provided policy and strategic advice to elected politicians, electoral candidates, and political movements.

English (native speaker), Spanish (fluent), French (proficient), Italian (good comprehension)

Have produced and edited dozens of social media videos using Adobe Premiere Pro

Awards & Certificates


Ramón y Cajal Research Grant

Grant awarded by the Spanish government in recognition of an outstanding research trajectory, to support research costs for 4 years, and co-finance my salary for the duration of 5 years. €200K in total.


I3 Certificate & Research Consolidation Grant

I won this certificate and consolidation grant from the Spanish government in recognition of outstanding research. €100K in total.  


Two sexenio certificates

Official certification by ANECA (National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain) of 12 years of research activity and publications

Research Areas

  • Ethics of citizenship

  • Democracy, self-government and federalism

  • Polycentric governance, freedom and human flourishing in social organisations & practices

  • Theory and practice of popular sovereignty

  • The value and practice of free speech in an era of Big Data and social media

Research Groups & Projects



I was principal investigator of "RESPUBLICA: Building Res Publica in a Culturally and Morally Complex Society." The project was financed by FUNCIVA (Fundación Ciudadanía y Valores). We investigated strategies and norms for adapting political structures and practices to the needs of complex societies (€39K in total)


Polycentric Governance, Freedom & Human Flourishing in Social Organisations and Practices

I am coordinating a group of faculty and doctoral students sharing research and ideas related to good governance in complex social organisations.

Academic Publications 

Please find an up-to-date list of my academic publications. I have published a single-author book with Cambridge University Press, two edited volumes, ten book chapters, and numerous articles in prominent peer reviewed journals like American Journal of Political Science, Political Theory and Journal of Business Ethics..

"Thunder's account of the role of citizenship in a worthy life is a broadly attractive one, and he defends it quite ably in his penultimate chapter against six important objections to his integrationist thesis. He writes, moreover, with clarity and grace."

- Richard Dagger, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law, University of Richmond.




  • The Polycentric Republic: A Theory of Civil Order for Free and Diverse Societies. Under review

Edited Volumes

  • Polycentric Governance and the Good Society: A Normative and Philosophical Investigation. Co-edited with Pablo Paniagua. Forthcoming with Lexington Books.

Journal Articles

  • "Are Traditional Catholics Defective Citizens?" Josephinum Journal of Theology, vol. 16, no. 2 (2009), pp. 379-393.

  • “A Rawlsian Argument Against the Duty of Civility.” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 50, no. 3 (July 2006), pp. 676-690.

Book Chapters

  • “An Ethical Case for Bottom-Up, Polycentric Governance in a Complex Society.” In Polycentric Governance and the Good Society: A Normative and Philosophical Investigation. Co-edited by David Thunder and Pablo Paniagua. Forthcoming with Lexington Books.




Book Translation:

Research Visits

May-June 2017

University of Oxford

June-July 2019

Technische Universität of Munich

Jan-Mar 2022

University of Leiden

Oct 2023-Jan 2024

University of Strasbourg

Visiting Fellow, Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government, Faculty of Law

Visiting Scholar, Hochschule für Politik

Guest Researcher, School of Law

Visiting Fellow, DRES Research Unit (Droit, Religion, Entreprise et Société)


I have taught the equivalent of over 20 semester-long courses at three universities. Here is a selection:

2006 & 2007

Bucknell University

Introduction to Political Theory (undergraduate)


Villanova University

Citizenship in Practice (MA course)


Villanova University

Modernity and Its Discontents (modern section of great books course)


Villanova University

Traditions in Conversation (premodern section of great books course)


Villanova University

Globalisation and Community


University of Navarra

Introduction to Ethics (undergraduate)


University of Navarra

Freedom, Power and Authority (advanced undergraduate)


University of Navarra

Ethics and Social Order (MA course)


Society & Politics: The Quest for Order (PPE undergraduate)

University of Navarra

Democracy and Self-Government (PPE undergraduate elective)


University of Navarra

Public Engagement

  • MEDIA APPEARANCES: I have conducted over 20 radio and podcast interviews and two live TV discussions on a variety of topics of public interest, including the rise of populism, the future of the European Union, the limits of the sovereign State, and pandemic policies in the West.


  • OP EDS: I have published over 60 opinion articles in English and Spanish-speaking newspapers and online media, including The Irish Times, Spiked, Mercatornet, Gript, El Mundo, El País, Expansión, El Confidencial, and Diario de Navarra, on a wide range of issues, including the rise of populism in the West, the future of UK after Brexit, and the handling of the pandemic by Western governments. 


  • PUBLIC TALKS: I have given guest talks to numerous civic and cultural associations, including Kratos (a Spanish/Navarran association aimed at educating the public about the nature of a free and responsible society), TASC (Think-Tank for Action on Social Change), Sociedad de Estudios Vascos (Society of Basque Studies), Encuentro Mundial de Valores (Mexico), Unión Social de Empresario Mexicanos, and World Youth Alliance.

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