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Alfred Stepan is Wallace Sayre Professor of Government, the founding Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR), and the Co-Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life (IRCPL). In 2012 he was the recipient of the Karl Deutsch Award of the International Political Science Association.  The last three recipients of this award were Juan J. Linz (2003), Charles Tilly (2006), and Giovanni Sartori (2009). 

Previously, Stepan was the founding Rector and President of Central European University in Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw, the former Director of the Concilium on International and Area Studies at Yale University, and Dean of the School of International Affairs at Columbia University. Stepan was also Gladstone Professor of Government at the University of Oxford and a Fellow Of All Souls College, Oxford.

Stepan's teaching and research interests include comparative politics, theories of democratic transitions, federalism, and the world's religious systems and democracy. In recent years, Stepan has conducted field research in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Burma, Egypt, Tunisia, India, Brazil, Israel, and Palestine, among other countries. Stepan’s publications in the last three years include Crafting State Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies, with Juan J. Linz and Yogendra Yadav; “Comparative Perspectives on Inequality and the Quality of Democracy in the United States” with Juan J. Linz in Perspectives on Politics (December 2011); “Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations” in Journal of Democracy (April 2012);  ““Rituals of Respect: Sufis and Secularists in Senegal in Comparative Perspective” in Comparative Politics (July 2012) “ Democratization Theory and the ‘Arab Spring’”, Journal of Democracy ( April 2013), (with Linz),  “Democratic Parliamentary Monarchies, ” Journal of Democracy ( April 2014), ( with Linz and Minoves),and the co-editorship of  Democracy& Islam in Indonesia (with Mirjam Künkler), Boundaries of Toleration  ( with Charles Taylor), and Democracy, Islam and Secularism: Turkey in Comparative Perspective ( with Ahmet Kuru).

Some of his other books include Arguing Comparative Politics (Oxford 2001);Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, with J. J. Linz (Johns Hopkins 1996);Rethinking Military Politics: Brazil and the Southern Cone (Princeton 1988); The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes, edited with Juan J. Linz (Johns Hopkins 1978); The State and Society: Peru in Comparative Perspective(Princeton 1978); and The Military in Politics: Changing Patterns in Brazil(Princeton 1971).