Alfred C. Stepan, R.I.P.


Credit: Columbia University

Democracy advocates and scholars are mourning the passing of Alfred C. Stepan.

Stepan, a prominent political scientist who served as dean of the School of International and Public Affairs from 1983 to 1991, passed away on September 26 at the age of 81, Columbia University notes:

Over his long, distinguished career as a scholar and educator, Professor Stepan was a leading scholar and taught in the areas of comparative politics, theories of democratic transitions, federalism, and the world’s religious systems and democracy. He wrote or edited more than 15 books, including most recently Boundaries of Toleration (edited, with Charles Taylor) and Democratization and Islam in Indonesia. His widely used Arguing Comparative Politics enjoyed six printings…..

Stepan returned to Columbia in 1999 as the Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government, teaching at SIPA and in the Department of Political Science until his retirement from teaching in 2015. Among classes he taught in later years were Democracy and Democratization: Theories, Institutions and Practices; and Democracy, the World’s Religions and Problems of the ‘Twin Tolerations.’ Stepan also served as co-director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life, and founder and director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Tolerance and Religion. RTWT

A member of the Research Council of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Research Studies, Stepan delivered the forum’s Ninth Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on “Democratization Theory and the Arab Spring,” (Nov. 13, 2012). He also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy, to which he contributed a considerable number of articles, including:

India, Sri Lanka, and the Majoritarian Danger

Democratic Parliamentary Monarchies

Democratization Theory and the “Arab Spring”

Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations

The Rise of “State-Nations”

Arab, Not Muslim, Exceptionalism

An “Arab” More Than “Muslim” Democracy Gap

How Burma Could Democratize

Religion, Democracy, and the “Twin Tolerations”

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