Dr. Helfer's research focuses on the history of political philosophy with emphasis on ancient Greek philosophy, and his teaching covers a broad range of topics in the history of political thought. Some of the thinkers covered in Dr. Helfer's courses are Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Thucydides, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Dr. Helfer has also taught courses in the history of American political thought, focusing on primary texts both from the Founding Debates (Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Hamilton, Monroe) and on the history of African American political thought (Douglass, Washington, Du Bois, King, Baldwin).
In addition, Dr. Helfer has a long-standing interest in quantitatve work, having taken up a secondary specialization in Stastical Political Methodology as a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. He has collaborated on research on the measurement of learning in informative political processes, and has taught courses in statistical methods for political scientists at the graduate level. Dr. Helfer has also taught "Math Camp" refreshers in Algebra, Calculus, and Linear Algebra to incoming political science graduate students since 2010.
Dr. Helfer was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, enjoys chess, ice hockey, and languages, and is a lifelong fan of the Montreal Canadiens. He currently resides with his wife and son in Detroit, MI.
Dr. Helfer is on leave from teaching for the year 2019 thanks to an NEH Fellowship to support his research, a translation of and commentary on Plato's Letters.
Research Interest/Area of Expertise
Political Theory and Quantitative Political Methodology
Education – Degrees, Licenses, Certifications
- PhD in Government - The University of Texas at Austin (2015)
- MA in Government - The University of Texas at Austin (2013)
- BA in Political Science and Physics - Kenyon College (2008)
Awards and Grants
Dr. Helfer has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (2019) and a Wayne State University Research Grant (2018) for his work on a new translation and interpretation of Plato's Letters.
Socrates and Alcibiades: Plato's Drama of Political Ambition and Philosophy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017)
"Socrates' Political Legacy: Xenophon's Socratic Characters in Hellenica I and II," Interpretation: a Journal of Political Philosophy, 2018
PS 2510 - Introduction to Political Ideologies
PS 3530 - Great Political Thinkers 1
PS 5630 - Statistics and Data Analysis in Political Science 1
PS 7550 - Topics in the History of Political Thought
PS 7560 - Contemporary Political and Social Theory