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Michigan State University

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M. Richard Zinman

M. Richard Zinman

M. Richard Zinman
University Distinguished Professor Emeritus
James Madison College

Give to endowments that honor Professor Zinman.

Professor M. Richard Zinman joined the faculty of James Madison College in 1969 and retired in 2014. He helped complete the founding of the college and was one of the founders of its JMCD/PTCD program. His primary concern was liberal education and his primary activity was teaching undergraduates. He taught classic texts in political philosophy (from Thucydides to Heidegger) and American political thought (from Publius to Rorty), fundamental religious texts (the Jewish and Christian Bibles), and enduring works of literature (e.g., Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, and Dostoevsky). His foci were Socratic political philosophy (Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle) and its most powerful modern critics (especially Machiavelli and Nietzsche). His teaching and writing were organized around a set of clearly defined themes: the contemporary crisis of rationalism, the recovery of classical political rationalism, the quarrels between reason and revelation and between philosophy and poetry, and the origins, strengths, weaknesses, and fate of liberal democracy. In 1989, Professor Zinman, working with Arthur Melzer and Jerry Weinberger, established the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy, a research center devoted to the study of the theory and practice of modern democracy. He served as the Symposium's executive director for twenty years. He was named University Distinguished Professor in 2001. His other honors include the State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award, the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award, the MSU Honors College Award for Distinguished Contributions to Honors Students, the American Political Science Association's Award for Outstanding Teaching in Political Science, JMC's Professor of the Year Award, and the JMC Alumni Association's Honorary Alumnus Award.

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