UH Manoa mourns passing of retired political science professor Glendon Schubert

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jim Dator, (808) 956-6601
Department of Political Science
Posted: Feb 9, 2006

SEATTLE — Glendon Schubert, one of the most creative and influential political scientists of the mid-20th century, died on Jan. 15, 2006, in Seattle, Wash., following a long illness. He was 87 years old.

Born in Oneida, N.Y., on June 7, 1918, Schubert received his AB (magna cum laude) in English and Mathematics in 1940 and a PhD in Political Science in 1948, both from Syracuse University. He served in the U.S. Army, Signal Corps (Intelligence) from 1942-1946 as a first lieutenant and was awarded a Bronze Star.

After teaching in the political science departments of several universities on the East and West Coasts from 1947-1951, Schubert settled down in the political science department of Michigan State University in East Lansing from 1952-1967, rising from assistant to full professor. He was also a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University from 1960-1961, and a Senior Scholar in Residence, Institute of Advanced Projects, at the East-West Center in Honolulu from 1963-1965.

After brief visits at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and York University near Toronto, Canada, Schubert came to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 1968 again as an East-West Fellow and became a permanent member of the Department of Political Science with the newly-created rank of university professor in 1971. He was awarded the Regents‘ Medal for Excellence in Research in 1975. From 1986 to 1991, Schubert was also Research Professor at Southern Illinois University, becoming Emeritus Professor there in 1991. After a distinguished career primarily focused on research, he officially retired from UH Mānoa in July 2000.

Schubert was largely responsible for creating two subdisciplines within political science—judicial behavior and biopolitical behavior. The latter emerged from his deeper understanding of the roots of the former. Scholars in the field of judicial behavior recognized that values, opinions and attitudes that judges held explained an important part of their reasoning and decisions on the bench. This was a controversial and often-denied position at the time, but he and many others established the validity and importance of the argument in studies of judges in many jurisdictions around the world, correlating judicial attitudes and life-experiences with the ideological direction of their judicial decisions in an impressively large number of studies and publications. Work in this field still continues among political scientists worldwide. In 1999, Schubert received a Lifetime Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association for his pioneering and continuing work in judicial behavior.

His first published work in judicial behavior was "The Study of Judicial Decision-Making as an Aspect of Political Behavior," American Political Science Review (December 1958) followed by scores of articles and research reports. Among his major books in judicial behavior are Quantitative Analysis of Judicial Behavior (1959), Constitutional Politics: The Political Behavior of Supreme Court Justices and the Constitutional Policies That They Make (1960), Judicial Decision-Making (1963), Judicial Policy-Making (1965), The Judicial Mind: The Attitudes and Ideologies of Supreme Court Justices (1965), Political Attitudes and Ideologies: A Cross-Cultural Interdisciplinary Approach (1977), Comparative Judicial Study (1981), and ending with Political Culture and Judicial Behavior (Two Volumes)(1985).

During the late 1970s, Schubert recognized that there must be a biological basis for the attitudes and behavior of judges (and all humans), and so he took two years out of his already illustrious professional career and devoted it to the study of the life sciences, first as a Fulbright-Hays Senior Research Scholar at the Zoological Laboratory of the Biological Center of the University of Groningen, Holland (1977-78), and then as a Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Wassenaar, Holland (1978-79). From that point on, while he continued to contribute to the field of judicial behavior, his research and publications increasingly focused on the relation between the life sciences and politics broadly, beginning with "Cooperation, Cognition, and Communication," Behavioral and Brain Sciences (December 1978), and "Ethology: A Primer for Political Scientists," Center for Biopolitical Research Notes (January 1979), and continuing with numerous articles.

His major books in the field were Evolutionary Politics (1989), Primate Politics (1991), and Research in Biopolitics, Vol. 5 (1997), co-edited with his son, James Schubert, and Steven Peterson. Schubert received a Lifetime Career Achievement Award in 1994 from the Association of Politics and Life Sciences.

Schubert had five children, one of whom, James, was a highly-regarded political scientist in his own right who died of a brain tumor shortly before Glendon on Sept. 5, 2005. Schubert is survived by his sister, Dolores Nabkel; his children Frank, Susan, Kathleen and Robin; and his widow, Natalie Klavans.