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Symposium call for papers


GUEST EDITORS: Christopher Larimer and Steven A. Peterson

Advances in evolutionary theory and biology have been applied with increasing regularity across political science, most prominently to understanding variation in political attitudes and behavior.  However, the application of this research to the day-to-day operations of government has been haphazard.  Two partial exceptions stand out, the formation of the Behavioural Insights Team (“nudge unit”) in partnership with the British government in 2010, and the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) created under the Obama Administration in 2015.  Despite clear and important policy implications, however, governments remain reluctant to fully embrace an interdisciplinary approach to the workings of the public sector; in fact, the SBST was disbanded under the Trump Administration.  For scholars and practitioners, better understanding of how not just behavioral economics but all aspects of the life sciences affect public administration and public policy is needed.

The study of Public Administration and Public Policy is one key area within Political Science. In recognition of this, papers and extended abstracts are now being accepted on these subjects for a special themed issue on “Public Administration and Public Policy” for Politics and the Life Sciences, an interdisciplinary journal published by Cambridge University Press. Papers and extended abstracts accepted for the issue will be published in the journal. Authors will also be invited to present their papers at a workshop to be held at the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences annual conference in Chicago in April, 2018.

Manuscripts for the special issue may analyze recent developments and their relationship to biology and politics from observational, experimental, content analytic, comparative case studies, network analysis, or other empirical or theoretical frameworks. Empirically-based theoretical work is welcome. All methodological approaches are welcome. Potential paper topics might include but are not limited to:

•    Rationality in public administration and public policy decision making;
•    The role of emotion in public administration and public policy;
•    Rationality in the development of public policy;
•    Evolution and public administration;
•    Neuroscience and public administration;
•    Biology and bureaucratic pathology;
•    Leadership and organizations;
•    Ethics, biology, and organizations;
•    Evolution and agenda setting;
•    Examination of substantive biopolicy issues, such as obesity, public health, disease, food policy, environmental policy, de-extinction, toxins and public health policy, and so on.

Proposals, in the form of extended abstracts, should be at least 1,500 words and include details on methodological approach(es). Contributors submitting full papers should submit original research manuscripts that are 7,500 - 15,000 words. Initial submission may use any recognized citation style, but final accepted papers must conform to Chicago style.


The deadline for submission of proposals is 31 January 2018.  A decision on all proposals will be made by 28 February 2018.  Accepted proposals will be expected to appear at the 2018 Politics and the Life Sciences conference in Chicago on 4 April.  Authors presenting at the 2018 conference will also be eligible for funding to partially cover travel expenses.  Submitted papers will be blind reviewed and must not have been published elsewhere. Please submit abstracts and full manuscripts, preferably in MS Word or pdf format, to Symposium Editors Drs. Christopher Larimer ( and Steven A. Peterson ( Queries may be addressed to either symposium editor.