man in with blue collared shirt and gray hair


Dean, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

Stephen L. Esquith has been working on ethical problems in developing countries since 1990 when he was a senior Fulbright scholar in Poland. While in Poland he collaborated on two collections of essays written by Polish and U.S. scholars on the changes in Eastern Europe since 1989.  His research and teaching since that time has focused on democratic transitions in post-conflict situations.  He has written on the rule of law, the problem of democratic political education, mass violence and reconciliation, and moral and political responsibility. He is the author of Intimacy and Spectacle (Cornell, 1994), a critique of classical and modern liberal political philosophy, and The Political Responsibilities of Everyday Bystanders (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010) on mass violence and democratic political education.  He has been involved in numerous civic engagement projects in the public schools and has led a study abroad program focusing on ethical issues in development in Mali in summer 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010.  He spent the academic year 2005-06 teaching and working with colleagues at the University of Bamako, Mali as a senior Fulbright scholar. There he taught two seminars on ethics and development at the Institut Polytechnic Rural and the Institut Supérieure de Formation et de Recherche Appliquée.  He has co-edited a volume of critical essays on the human capabilities approach to development, and recently written on children’s human rights, the problem of self-sacrifice, the role of film in democratic political education, and humanitarian assistance.  After serving as chair of the Department of Philosophy for five years, he returned to Michigan State University in fall 2006 to become Dean of the new Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, and also still serves as one of the leaders of the doctoral specialization in Ethics and Development which he helped to found. He is currently working with colleagues in Mali on several related projects on post-conflict dialogue and reconciliation, including a new study abroad program on this topic in Mali in summer 2014 and reciprocal peace education projects in Michigan. 

Current CV

Visit Dr. Esquith’s Webpage


Recent Conference Papers:

1. “Including Refugees and Immigrants through Art and Civic Engagement,” American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division, Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, April 12-15, 2017.

2. “From Compassion to Political Responsibility,” Human Development and Capabilities Association, Washington, DC, September 10-12, 2015.

3. “Philosophy for Kids in Mali,” Philosophy Learning and Teaching Conference, Seattle, WA, June 29-30, 2015.

Recent Interviews:

“Impact Exposure with City Pulse: Dean Esquith & Moussa Traore,” January 21, 2015

“Impact Exposure with City Pulse: Dean Esquith,” January 7, 2015

Recent Publications:

“The Political Responsibility of Bystanders: The Case of Mali,” Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 9, no. 3, December 2013

“Motivating Responsibility for Children in Poor Countries,” in Child Rights: The Movement, International Law, and Opposition, ed. Clark Butler (Purdue University Press, 2012)

“Re-framing the Responsibilities of Bystanders through Film,” Political Theory, Vol. 41, no. 1, February 2013  

Stephen L. Esquith, The Political Responsibilities of Everyday Bystanders (Penn State University Press, 2010)

Stephen L. Esquith and Fred Gifford, eds., Capabilities, Power, and Institutions: Toward a More Critical Development Ethics