The Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society, and Rule of Law (CISRUL) studies the life in the world of political concepts.  The interdisciplinary Centre examines how political principles function within and beyond the contemporary West. Concepts such as citizenship, civil society, and the rule of law are used as often by policy makers as by scholars. Core to CISRUL’s mission is informing academic and public debate on how they are used, and to what effect.


CISRUL brings together an extraordinary range of researchers, including PhD students, to study these and other political principles, including democracy, human rights and pluralism. We consider how they have been fostered historically, debated philosophically and in politics, fought over by social movements, codified in law, transmitted through education and the media, and lived out in everyday life.

Headed by Trevor Stack (Spanish and Latin American Studies), CISRUL’s membership reaches across seven disciplines to house a vibrant, diverse debate about the political concepts which underpin our modern world. It brings to bear expertise in History (Michael Brown, Karin Friedrich, Robert Frost), Law (Matyas Bodig, Tamas Gyorfi), Politics (Pamela Abbott, Andrea Teti, Ritu Vij), Sociology (Cristina Flesher-Fominaya, Nadia Kiwan, Claire Wallace), Divinity (Brian Brock, Michael Laffin) and Education (Rachel Shanks), and works closely with other groups such as the Centre for Early Modern Studies, ArabTrans and the Centre for Global Security and Governance.

Founded in 2009. CISRUL has

  • held 11 major scholarly workshops and conferences, bringing speakers from 42 countries to Aberdeen
  • published a volume Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty (Brill) based on conferences in 2010 and 2012, and a volume Breaching the Civil Order (Cambridge) based on conferences in 2016 and 2017
  • supervised a total of 25 PhD students, including 12 students funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND grant under the rubric of POLITICO (Political Concepts in the World)
  • hosted collaborative research projects on societal responses to Mexican organised crime (ESRC), political awareness in Aberdeen City and Shire schools, as well as an Insight Institute seminar series on Polish migrants in Scotland
  • delivered a successful Sixth Century course ‘What Gives Us Rights?’ with a strong enrolment of 120-140 from across the University, showcasing lecturers from all 3 Colleges of the University
  • engaged with the wider public through an evening lecture series, as well as public conferences on UK Energy Politics and on the Curriculum for Excellence, featuring speakers from public bodies such as Education Scotland and Oil and Gas UK.

For additional information or to get in touch with the Centre, please contact Trevor Stack.

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