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Sam K

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Virginia


Ethics and Public Policy; Political Theory; American Politics; Law


I’m Sam and I’m a PhD student in Political Science (Political Theory and American Politics) at the University of Virginia! I graduated with honors from Dartmouth College in June 2020 with a double major in Government and Philosophy, receiving the Francis W. Gramlich Philosophy Prize. My ever-expanding research interests include political authority, democratic theory, and ethics and public policy. Soon, I'll be starting a dissertation on how institutions affect political obligation. Additionally, I’ve had research assistantships in subject areas ranging from digital free speech to the relationship between social movements, political parties, and presidents in American political development. Although my work is mostly philosophical in nature, I’m always looking to apply theory to the real world and use it to solve problems. As an early-career researcher, I’m always looking for new ideas, collaboration, and strongly believe that we learn best when we learn from each other. As a teacher, I hope to be able to open up the Ivory Tower to anyone who wishes to access it—academia is not a zero-sum game and you can make anything into an intellectual experience.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Recognizing Inequalities in Public Policies

In this project, I’d help my mentee identify laws that affect different demographics unequally, articulate why these inequalities affect important philosophical issues like political obligation, and come up with some potential policy solutions to the problems that they identify. Several scholars in a variety of disciplines have researched this topic. I like this project for a high school student because it provides an opportunity for a student to really dig into a specific policy of their choosing and have a unique project. Example policies include the sales tax, paid family leave mandates for small businesses, and occupational licensing laws.

Teaching experience

I spent two years working at a speech and debate camp for high school students. It consisted of a mix of lectures and one-on-one tutoring in a range of skills (public speaking, research skills, grammar) and a range of subjects (moral and political philosophy, domestic policy.) As a private tutor, I've assisted students in political theory courses for the past five years. Additionally, I've helped a few students with college applications, editing personal statements and résumés, and general writing skills. Currently, I serve as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Virginia. I'm responsible for weekly lectures, grading assignments, and assisting students with any difficulties they have. Working with my students is the best part of my week!


Work experience

Cato Institute (2019 - 2019)
First Amendment Intern
Rauner Library (2019 - 2019)
Historical Accountability Archival Research Fellow
American Journal of Political Science (2022 - 2023)
Editorial Assistant


Dartmouth College
BA Bachelor of Arts
Government and Philosophy
University of Virginia
MA Master of Arts (2022)
University of Virginia
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Political Theory and American Politics

Completed Projects

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