Michael Goodhart studied political theory at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 2001, he has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is Professor of Political Science, Gender Studies, and Philosophy (by courtesy). He was a Research Fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2008-09) and Guest Professor at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin (2008-10). He was also Residential Research Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala (2021-22).
Goodhart’s early work focused on democratic theory. In Democracy as Human Rights: Freedom and Equality in the Age of Globalization(Routledge 2005), he argued that globalization exposes the familiar and largely unquestioned conception of democracy as popular sovereignty as historically contingent and normatively problematic. The book recovers and rehabilitates an emancipatory conception of democracy as human rights, one whose realization requires the thoroughgoing democratization of all kinds of governance relationships. More recently, he has written about injustice and related questions of accountability and responsibility. InInjustice: Political Theory for the Real World(Oxford 2018), he critiqued conventional approaches to theorizing justice and offered a radical alternative that transforms our thinking about what kind of problem injustice is and how political theorists might better understand and address it.
Throughout his career, Goodhart has been deeply engaged with human rights praxis. He is contributing editor of Human Rights: Theory and Practice (Oxford, 2009, 2012, 2016, 2022). He is presently working on a monograph that seeks to theorize the deep controversy and promiscuous practice of human rights by questioning the taken-for-granted assumption that there is some single way or thing that human rights are. Taking the complexity and multiplicity of rights as the starting point for theorizing them, rather than as an obstacle to be overcome on the way to understanding them, and drawing on radical social movement praxis, Goodhart's account offers transformative perspectives on old debates and provides new resources for thinking politically with and about human rights.
From 2017-2021 Goodhart was Director of Pitt's Global Studies Center, a Title VI National Resource Center. He serves on the editorial boards of Perspectives on Politics, The Journal of Human Rights, and Polity. He was co-President of the Association for Political Theory from 2017-2020 and has held numerous positions in the Association. He chaired the APSA Task Force on Democracy, Social Justice, and Economic Security in a Volatile World (2010–12) and was President and is a founding member of the APSA Human Rights organized section (2004-05). At Pitt, he is a Faculty Fellow in the Frederick Honors College and a member of the Provost's Committee on Anti-Black Racism and Transformative Pedagogy and the University Sustainability Task Force.