Stephen L. Schechter, Ph.D.

Stephen L. Schechter, Ph.D.

RSC Political Science
Professor of Political Science

Co-Director and Professor of Public Policy, Advocacy and Civic Engagement (PACE)
Director, Council for Citizenship Education

Contact Information
Office: Gurley 106
Phone: 518-244-2363
E-Mail: schecs@sage.edu

Brief Biographical Statement

Stephen Schechter received his B.A. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 1967. He received his Ph.D. in 1972 from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh where he was a National Defense Education Act Fellow. Prior to joining the Sage faculty, he was on the faculties of the University of Umeå (Sweden), Temple University (Philadelphia), and the State University of New York at Albany.

Academic Achievements

Professor Schechter is the author or editor of more than 20 books on American constitutional history. His books include Well Begun: Chronicles of the Early National Period, The Reluctant Pillar: New York State and the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Roots of the Republic: American Founding Documents Interpreted, and Contexts of the Bill of Rights which he co-edited with Pulitzer prize nominee Richard B. Bernstein.

His most recent book is Exploring Political Ideas, published in 2010 by CQ Press, a subsidiary of Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Written Thomas Vontz, with the assistance of Margaret Branson, this book is a reference work both on the history of political ideas and on the influence of ideas in political history. 

Professor Schechter served as associate director of the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. He founded the Section on Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations in the American Political Science Association. When he served as Section Chair, it was the largest section in the Association. He co-founded the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies which has institutional members in every federal system in the world.

He is the founding editor of the Publius Annual Review, started in 1976, now published by Oxford University Press. This yearly publication reviews the 10 most important issues each year for American federalism and intergovernmental relations.

Professor Schechter is also co-director of the Cities of the Prairie research project which has studied the political development since 1945 of a dozen medium-size cities of the American prairie-plains from central Illinois to the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Its research findings have been published in three volumes, analyzing successive 15-year periods of community politics (1945 – 1960, 1961 – 1976, and 1977 – 1992).

Additionally, he has written various journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers. He has presented at numerous scholarly conferences and workshops.

Public Service

Professor Schechter has worked at levels of government – federal, state, county and local governments.

Federal: Professor Schechter assisted President-elect Ronald Reagans Federalism Transition Team, and he worked closely with the Reagan White House on the New Federalism which was a major initiative of that Administration. He also worked for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. He also worked for the U.S. Information Agency, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Department of Education (see Civic Education below).

State: From 1986 to 1990, Professor Schechter served as Executive Director of the New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution which initiated many programs and events for schools, media, scholars, and communities throughout the state. He also served as research director of the New York State Commission on the Capital Region which developed findings and recommendations on different forms of regionalization from consolidation to shared services.

Local: Professor Schechter served as chairman of the Rensselaer County Bicentennial Commission and as vice-chair of the Albany City Charter Commission.

Community Service

Professor Schechter has organized various community development projects in Troy. Most recently, he established the Sage “Own a Home” program in Troy. It has several hundred thousand dollars from the private sector to provide loans for the sale and rehabilitation of dozens of homes in the neighborhood surrounding Russell Sage College.

 

Civic Education

Professor Schechter has a keen interest in improving the civic education of young people from kindergarten to high school.

The Council for Citizenship Education which Professor Schechter directs is a legacy of N.Y.S. Bicentennial Commission. Under the auspices of that Council, Professor Schechter has been involved in many educational projects in civics and history in New York State and elsewhere around the world.

He is the primary author of New York State’s Core Curriculum for its 12th grade course, Participation in Government. For many years, he was the N.Y.S. Coordinator of “We the People” and “Project Citizen.” He co-founded the New York State Consortium of Civic Learning housed at the New York State Bar Association. He served as co-editor of the Social Science Record, the official journal of the New York State Social Studies Council.

He also has worked on civic education in the Middle East, Eurasia, and Russia. He has served as a semi-permanent advisor to the U.S. Information Agency; and in 2004 he was part of a U.S. delegation to Iraq.

He co-directed Civitas-Russia for 12 years with the American Federation of Teachers and the Teachers Newspaper of Russia. This partnership coordinated international exchange programs, trained 6,000 teachers yearly, and reached 100,000 students each year. In 2007, Civitas-Russia expanded to Civitas-Eurasia including Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.

Personal

Professor Schechter lives in Niskayuna with his wife Stephanie and two cats, Kitty and Emmy. Daughter Sarah graduated Russell Sage College in Mathematics and was class Co-Valedictorian. She works in the NYS Labor Department’s Bureau of Statistical Research. Step-daughter Kelly graduated Russell Sage College in Spanish. She works in the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.