Joanne S. Gowa

Joanne S. Gowa will retire this spring after 30 years as the William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War and professor of politics. She has made fundamental contributions to the scholarship of international relations and has been a leader in the development of a modern discipline of political science at Princeton.

Joanne was born in New York City and raised in Riveredge, New Jersey. She did her undergraduate work at Tufts University, where she majored in political science and was a summa cum laude graduate. She came to Princeton in September 1972 to join the Woodrow Wilson School’s Master in Public Affairs program. After completing the M.P.A., she transferred to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Politics intending to specialize in international relations. She became a student of Robert Gilpin and was awarded her doctoral degree in 1980. After serving for 10 years as a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, she returned to Princeton as professor of politics in 1990. In 1998 she was appointed the William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War.

Early in her career Joanne emerged as a major figure in the budding subfield of international political economy and was eventually recognized as an intellectual leader. Her first significant contribution to the field was her first book, Closing the Gold Window: Domestic Politics and the End of Bretton Woods (1983). It was one of the first works to integrate international political economy and domestic politics and was the first to import the bureaucratic politics approach into international political economy.

Joanne was also at the cutting edge of the scholarly literature on the democratic peace hypothesis: the theory that democracies are less likely to go to war against one another than non-democratic countries. This interest culminated in her book, Ballots and Bullets: The Elusive Democratic Peace (1999). She has remained a skeptic of this hypothesis throughout her career. This is in accord with her theoretical orientation toward political realism, which in her case means that international power politics is more important than domestic factors like regime type in shaping international relations and war.

She was also one of the few international relations scholars to bridge the subfields of international political economy and security studies. Her major works in this area include Allies, Adversaries, and International Trade (1994) and an important paper, “Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and Free Trade” (1989). Although not obvious from these titles, Joanne has been a pioneer in bringing rigorous quantitative and rational choice methods to bear in the field of international political economy. She was not trained in these methods as a graduate student but developed them in an effort to retool her methodological orientation that was supported by a MacArthur Foundation Grant for Research and Writing in the 1990s. Few scholars in the field have managed such a considerable transition with such great success.

Joanne’s extensive and varied record of professional service includes memberships on the editorial boards of both of the leading journals in international relations, World Politics and International Organization (of which she also served as review editor) as well as the discipline’s flagship journal, the American Political Science Review. She served on several committees of the American Political Science Association and was elected to the association’s governing body, the APSA Council. Beyond political science, she served two terms as a trustee of Tufts University, her alma mater, where she played a leadership role as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. At Princeton, she served as director of graduate studies and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Politics and, for five years, as director of the Fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars. She devoted an immense amount of energy to supporting and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in these roles and is widely admired for it.

Her professional distinctions include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the award of (unusually) two MacArthur Foundation fellowships, and election to the vice presidencies of both the American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association. At Princeton, her contributions to teaching and mentoring were recognized by the Stanley Kelley teaching award in the Department of Politics.

Looking beyond her contributions to teaching and scholarship, Joanne’s most distinctive legacy at the University may be her role over many years in guiding a methodological diversification of the department’s approach to international studies that increased the representation of quantitative and formal work. This was a substantial enlargement of Princeton’s orientation to the field.

Joanne has been a mentor and friend to several generations of colleagues and collaborators within and beyond her department. We are all warmly grateful.

Annual Emeriti Booklet Excerpt: