“Diagnosing Deep Roots of Development: Genetic, Disease, and Environmental Factors.” Using new data about the country-level frequencies of ACP1 genes and a novel identification strategy, this paper shows how historic genetic adaptations to ultraviolet exposure and disease have causal effects on per capita income today. The policy implications include protecting from ultraviolet radiation, controlling tropical diseases, and using specific nutritional supplements. Jan. 2016.
"Addressing Corruption Together." How can donors and recipients of foreign aid work together to take on systemic corruption? Success stories and economic theory convey practical insights, though econometric findings don’t. A process called “convening” can bring together international knowledge and local knowledge in ways that catalyze creative, effective action. May 2015.
"On Sharing Expertise." The tension is ancient and universal: we want the fruits of expertise, but we mistrust the arrogance and tin ears of experts. How, then, to manage the sharing of knowledge and experience we are eager to access, without the tyranny of experts we are all eager to avoid? April 2014.
“How Much Do Rights Matter?” Do improvements in civil liberties and political rights lead to improvements in GDP? Yes, but it’s complicated. This paper explores the travails of estimation with a new twist: countries are heterogeneous. Dec. 2013.
"Gratitude." Gratitude is good for us, and we can help ourselves become more grateful. Here's how. Nov. 2013.
“Tackling Corruption in Thailand.” Poor governance is holding back Thailand’s economic progress and contributing to its political unrest. Reformers sometimes start on the wrong foot--for example, new laws. What’s better? Oct. 2013.
“Deciding Whom to Become.” If we don’t already know, how should we choose what to do with our lives? In a word, experiment. Revision of a Commencement Address. May 2013.
"Public-Private Collaboration and Corruption." Public-private-nonprofit partnerships will be increasingly important in addressing the world’s most difficult problems. But they embed risks of collusion and corruption. What can be done? Nov. 2012.
"What Will Work Here: Inferences from Evaluations in Complex Ecologies." This address in the Presidential Stream of the American Evaluation Association argues that evaluations should move beyond “the study” for “the decision,” to the convening of multiple actors to define issues, reconsider objectives and alternatives, digest promising practices, and forge new relationships. Many promising methods exist. It is time for a convening…about convenings. October 2012.
"The Quality of Government." What is good government? How much does it matter, and why? And—a crucial practical issue for a world in need and upheaval—how can it be improved? Sept. 2012.
"Toward a Turning Point against Corruption." The fight against corruption needs new approaches that address political cultures, informal systems, and the practicalities of implementation. Fortunately, success stories can instruct and inspire. April 2012.
"Fighting Corruption." An overview of lessons learned from efforts to combat corruption around the world. June 2011.
"Making a Country." South Sudan is the world’s newest country. A few years ago, leaders convened to address the prospective challenges of good government. What did they conclude? January 2011.
"Economic Gangsters." Poverty, violence, and corruption have connections that can be understood through economic analysis. Good data and good economics can lead to improvements. October 2010.
"Tackling Corruption in Haiti Is Possible." Haiti is a graveyard for reforms. The great quake and the reconstruction effort offer an opportunity to tackle one of the country’s chronic problems, systemic corruption. March 2010.
"Addressing Corruption in Haiti." Based on analysis of Haitian realities and the lessons of international experience, this paper provides practical guidance for tackling corruption in Haiti's reconstruction and development programs. February 2010.
"Leadership and Universities." How does the president's job in higher education differ from business, government, or civil society? What is "inspirational leadership" and how important is it? What personal traits are important--and which ones are at risk? A talk to the Claremont Leadership Roundtable, a monthly meeting of about 25 professors from the Claremont Colleges. October 2008.
“Across the Disciplines, Out into the World.” This 2008 Convocation talk reviews our progress and the tasks ahead, with many video clips of CGU professors and examples of teaching and research that moves across the disciplines and out into the world. September 2008.
“Step Back or Step Up.” A new evaluation of the World Bank’s efforts to improve government notes that the impact has been small and also that the Bank doesn’t take on high-level corruption. What now? Should the Bank step back or step up? May 2008.
“A Holistic Approach to the Fight against Corruption.” This talk was the President’s Invited Keynote Address at the Second Session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Anti-Corruption. It discusses what corruption is and how systemic corruption can be reduced, if never eliminated. January 2008.
“Contested Summary Measures.” Constructs such as IQ and GDP—and, possibly, many others—can be overused or dismissed in a classic but unhelpful pattern. How might we begin thinking about and using contested summary measures? October 2007.
"How Do They Do That, They’re So Small?" Convocation Address 2007. This is an occasion for a kind of “state of the union” presentation, summarizing where we are and looking ahead to this year’s priorities. In a word, the state of Claremont Graduate University is excellent. September 2007.
“Three Reminders about Leadership.” Common descriptors of leaders, such as commander, designer, or even leader itself, should be questioned, at least regarding leadership at universities. May 2007.
“Global Action and Social Change.” Why research universities have to provide leadership on the world’s most difficult problems. Brief introduction to a student-led research conference. March 2007.
“Catholic Studies in a Secular University.” Why should a School of Religion at a secular university seek a Chair in Catholic Studies? With our unique mission of teaching students what it means to be inside and outside a community of faith, Catholic studies will add depth and resonance, and its exemplars teach us about experiencing God and serving mankind. Brief remarks to a presentation and panel discussion on “What Catholicism Will We Choose for the 21st Century?” and the symbolic launch of a campaign for a Chair in Catholic Studies. February 2007.
"Subverting Corruption." What can be done to fight corruption when the people in control are themselves corrupt? Author Posting. (c) Taylor & Francis, 2007. The definitive version was published in Global Crime, Volume 7 Issue 3, August 2006. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Taylor & Francis for personal use, not for redistribution.
“A Pattern in an Infinite Regress.” As we think about what teachers do, and then what teaching teachers entails, we begin along what seems like an infinite regress of evidence and reflection, passion and inspiration. Brief introductory remarks to a meeting of Deans of Education. October 2006.
“More Like Us.” This 2006 Convocation address contextualizes the strategic planning now underway at Claremont Graduate University. It reviews important recent critiques of graduate education and shows how CGU has the seeds of the answers. CGU can provide leadership in graduate education and help solve some of our region’s and our world’s most important problems, by being “more like us.” October 2006.
“Social Advocacy and Universities.” Advocacy doesn’t naturally fit with academic culture. But social advocacy that is passionate, positive, practical, and concerned about proof can contribute much to university life. September 2006.
“The Ideals Gap.” Successful candidates this fall will appeal to our hearts through their ideals and to our heads by connecting their programs to ideals. September 2006.
“Invisible Evidence.” Might cultural analysis help us advance academic debates about what constitutes credible evidence? These brief remarks introduced the Stauffer Symposium for 2006. August 2006.
"Fear." How might research about fear help us, and our world, do a little bit better? These brief remarks introduced an arts and humanities conference on fear. April 2006.
“Neuroeconomics Welcoming Remarks.” These brief introductory remarks at a conference ask how neuroeconomics might help us understand heterogeneity among people and, through that, lead to better treatments and public policies. April 2006.
“Are Great Leaders Also Great Followers?” These brief introductory remarks for a conference on “followership” suggest that aspiring leaders should ask “Of what or whom am I a follower?” and “What does it mean to be a great follower?” February 2006.
"The Quantitative-Qualitative Divide." In academia, an almost cultural barrier exists between researchers who favor quantitative methods and those who spurn them. How might this barrier be bridged to the benefit of both sides? 2005.
"The Elephant Is Peace and Freedom." (Part I) (Part II) (Part III) What is southern Sudan like? How might a new government be formed virtually from scratch? This long document, with photos, is a personal portrait based on a trip in April-May 2004. A text-only version, without the PowerPoint presentations, is available here. In addition, a book version with photos, maps, and the PowerPoint presentations is available via blurb.com. You can see a preview here:
"How to Use Partnerships: An Imaginary Conversation." Increasingly, projects and programs are carried out through partnerships involving government, business, and civil society. How should prospective participants decide whether and how to enter such partnerships? December 2004.
"Taking Culture Into Account: From 'Let's' to 'How'." From time to time people request this so-called “classic” about cultural diversity and development in Africa. It addresses an apparent failure of the human sciences. For at least a century scholars and activists have asserted that cultural diversity matters for practical choices. And yet we lack well-developed theories, useful guidelines, and close professional links between those who study culture and those who make and manage public policy. Why? This essay offers some explanations-and calls for a renaissance of applied cultural studies. April 1992.