Brian Esparza Walker
Office: 3347 Bunche Hall
Phone: (310) 825-1064
Brian Esparza Walker is a political theorist who specializes in comparative political theory, especially in the comparison of the political theories of America and China, and of the United States and Germany.
Professor Walker's principal research focus is on cross-national analysis of theories of civic responsibility and especially on the use of Chinese-style cultural theories by United States political thinkers (see, for example, “Thoreau on Democratic Cultivation” in Political Theory 29:2). How can Chinese cultural theories help us think about civic reform movements that could be made acceptable to the citizens of a libertarian and anti-authoritarian country like the United States?
Professor Walker’s recent manuscript, Hippie Philosophy And the Building of Environmental Counterculture, adopts a roughly Weberian perspective (methodologically individualist, attentive to sociological differentiation, ambitious about reflecting causal complexity) to defend counterculture as a mode of political action.
Hippie Philosophy And the Building of Environmental Counterculture argues that the environmental counterculture of the 1970s was like Neoconfucianism (the most influential form of Confucianism) in its focus on cultivating individual answerability for actions and then creating a moralizing public culture to popularize this sense of responsibility. The book also shows the way 1970s advocates of environmental counterculture borrowed from complexity science, the way they drew on postwar information theorists such as Norbert Wiener and John Von Neumann to elaborate a better explanation of how sticking to a culture – for example holding to a more responsible consumer culture – might generate real-world effects.
In line with UCLA’s campaign to put a renewed focus on teaching, Professor Walker (who received UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001) focuses his energies on curriculum building, on graduate advising and on the maintenance of excellence in undergraduate teaching.
At the graduate-level Prof. Walker teaches the following courses: Life Science Conceptions/Political Theory Receptions (Fall Quarter 2012); The Frankfurt School As Readers of Max Weber (Spring 2013); Is the Legal System an Autopoietic System? Carl Schmitt, Jurgen Habermas and Niklas Luhmann on the Sociological Grounding of Law (Fall 2013); Chinese Political Philosophy I – Neo-Confucianism and The Escape from Predicament (Spring 2014); Chinese Political Philosophy II-From the Opium Wars to Nixon in China (Fall 2014); Rawls, and His Critics (Fall 2015).
Professor Walker also teaches a seminar designed for all social scientists -- Frameworks for Political Inquiry; Classics In the Philosophy of Social Science –taught every second spring (next version 2015). Theories of rationality, the advantages of models versus deductive theories, process-tracing, problems relating to the gap between micro-and macro level analysis, differences between the natural sciences and the human sciences, interpretive theories versus explanatory theories – these are just a few of the themes addressed in this seminar. Graduate students from outside political theory, including those from other departments, are warmly encouraged to join (this or any other seminar).
Each spring Professor Walker teaches an undergraduate class on citizenship and public engagement—M115C Seven Pathways to Citizenship. This class serves as the core class in UCLA’s Civic Engagement Minor. Seven Pathways to Citizenship surveys the civic engagement literatures of several cultures and then discusses seven primary pathways (soldier, politician, civil servant, activist) out of the apathetic life into one that is more civically engaged. Prof. Walker also teaches PS 10 each fall, a large-capacity lecture class (often 400 people or more) introducing students to the pleasures of political theory through an in-depth analysis of the works of Aristotle and John Stuart Mill. PS 10 is designed to serve as an introductory course to college-level analysis and writing, as well as to the philosophical idea that we might learn new concepts in order to enlarge our experience.
Both PS 10 and PS M 115C carry General Education credit and are thus open to students from across campus, whatever their majors may be.
All classes guaranteed politically neutral (mostly)! All classes guaranteed rigorous, learning-intensive, and vista-opening!