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Center for Human Values
Macedo’s interests mesh well with center’s emphasis
Princeton NJ — As a scholar of democracy, it is fitting that Stephen Macedo leads a Princeton center that gives voice to a range of perspectives about questions integral to humankind. Topics such as justice, love, life and death, identity, animal rights, constitutional law, bioethics and political theory are all catalysts for conversation at the University Center for Human Values.
Stephen Macedo (photo by Jon Roemer)
The Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values, Macedo took on the role as director in 2001, building on the center’s mandate, from its founding in 1990, to support teaching, research and discussion of ethics and human values throughout the curriculum and across the disciplines.
Josiah Ober, the David Magie Class of 1897 Professor of Classics, said Macedo’s leadership has been inspiring. “Steve has worked tirelessly and effectively to bring new faculty colleagues to Princeton and the center,” he said. “He has broadened the scope of the work we do, expanding programs for faculty, graduate students and undergraduates alike. He has a wry sense of humor and a quick laugh, and this is conjoined with a great seriousness and bedrock sense of fairness and decency. He is the ideal leader for a values center as big and ambitious as Princeton’s.”
Macedo studies topics in political theory, ethics, American constitutionalism and public policy, with an emphasis on liberalism and its critics, and the roles of civil society and public policy in promoting citizenship.
He joined the Princeton faculty in 1999, and served for two years as founding director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs. From 2002 through 2004 he was vice president of the American Political Science Association and chair of its first standing committee on civic education and engagement. In this capacity he served as principal co-author of the book “Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation, and What We Can Do About It,” which was published in 2005 by Brookings Institution Press. Macedo also chairs the Princeton Project on Universal Jurisdiction, which has formulated principles of international law to prosecute human rights violations.
In the Brookings book, Macedo and 17 co-authors explore the insights political scientists can bring to bear on the state of democratic life in the United States, and offer a roadmap for enlivening civic participation. According to Macedo, some practical suggestions discussed in “Democracy at Risk” include: shortening the presidential selection process; halting partisan redistricting in order to encourage more competitive elections; addressing inequality based on location by changing housing policy; and supporting a service program for young people nationally.
Macedo’s other books include “Diversity and Distrust: Civic Education in a Multi-cultural Society” and “Liberal Virtues: Citizenship, Virtue and Community in Liberal Constitutionalism,” as well as 10 edited and co-edited volumes.
This semester Macedo is team teaching two courses. One is an undergraduate course, “Ethics and Public Policy,” with Philip Pettit, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values; the other is a graduate course, “Democratic Ideals and Realities,” with Larry Bartels, the Donald E. Stokes Professor in Public and International Affairs, and Christopher Achen, the Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences and professor of politics.
Previously, Macedo has taught at Harvard University and at the Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the College of William and Mary, master’s degrees at the London School of Economics and Oxford University, and master’s and doctoral degrees at Princeton.
Next year Macedo will be on leave and expects to focus on international justice issues. “I am interested in the moral significance of the national political community against the background of two sets of challenges: increasing globalization and increasing inequalities that are organized by locality,” he said.
Anthony Appiah, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values, will serve as acting director.