Michigan State University

Michigan State University wordmark Michigan State University masthead graphic

Zinman, M. Richard

University Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy



Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School; Political Science
University Distinguished Professor

Professor Zinman studies political philosophy and American political thought. He has taught in the college since 1969. Since 1989, he has also served as executive director of the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy, a research center in the Department of Political Science. He has edited and contributed to seven volumes of essays published by the Symposium: Technology in the Western Political Tradition (1993), History and the Idea of Progress (1995), Multiculturalism and American Democracy (1998), Democracy and the Arts (1999), Politics at the Turn of the Century (2001), The Public Intellectual: Between Philosophy and Politics (2003), and Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (2005). In 2005, the Symposium received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the first such grant awarded to Michigan State University. Professor Zinman has received the State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award (1991), the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award (1995), and the Honors College Award for Distinguished Contributions to Honors Students (2005).


Richard Zinman published "Thinking about the Founding" in Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 36, issue 2 (Winter 2009), pp. 103-144. This article is a review of two books by Alan Gibson, Interpreting the Founding and Understanding the Founding. Professor Gibson's reply will be published in the following issue.

Richard Zinman published (with Steven Kautz, Arthur Melzer, and Jerry Weinberger) The Supreme Court and the Idea of Constitutionalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009). This is a collection of essays based on papers delivered in a lecture series and at a conference organized by the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy in MSU's Department of Political Science. It is the eighth volume in the series published by the Symposium.

Professor Zinman (and others) edited Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (HarperCollins, 2005).

Professor M. Richard Zinman was one of the authors of a $500,000 "challenge grant" from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - a first for MSU - for the purpose of creating a permanent endowment for the LeFrak Forum. Zinman, a Forum co-director, notes that the specific mission of the LeFrak Forum, also known as the Symposium on Science, Reason and Modern Democracy, is to explore the intersection of philosophy and public policy, i.e. "to place theoretical issues in practical context and policy issues in philosophical perspective."