Stephen L. Esquith served as the founding dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University from 2007 to July 2021. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Princeton University, where he received his Ph.D. in politics. He served as the chair of the MSU Department of Philosophy before becoming the founding dean of RCAH. Esquith received MSU's Teacher-Scholar Award in 1984 and the Honors College Distinguished Contributions to Honors Students Award for 2008-2009.
He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Poland and then later in Mali. He is the author of Intimacy and Spectacle (Cornell, 1994) and The Political Responsibilities of Everyday Bystanders (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), the editor of several edited collections on democracy and development, and the author of numerous articles, most recently on children's human rights, democratic political education, and peacebuilding. He is currently working on several local peace-building projects in Mali and similar peace education projects for refugee children in Michigan. He has taught philosophy for children in middle schools in Michigan and Mali over the past fifteen years and has facilitated the co-creation of four children’s picture books in French, Bamanankan, and English for a peace-building project in Mali. He teaches courses in RCAH on civic engagement and political theory.