Prof. Peter Katzenstein, government, has taught at Cornell since 1973.

May 3, 2020

Government’s Prof. Peter Katzenstein Wins ‘Nobel Prize of Political Science’

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Prof. Peter J. Katzenstein won the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science for his over 50 year career in international relations and comparative politics.

The prize is widely regarded as the “nobel prize of political science,” and was created by the Johan Skytte Foundation at Uppsala University in 1995 — rewarding “the most remarkable achievements within the field of political science” according to their website.

Katzenstein, the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies who has taught at Cornell since 1973, is the prize’s 26th recipient.

The foundation’s board announced that Katzenstein received the accolade for “furthering the understanding of how history, culture and norms shape economies, as well as national and global security policy.”

Katzenstein told The Sun that the award is the recognition of two major accomplishments in his career.

The prize first acknowledges Katzenstein’s edited volume titled “Between Power and Plenty: Foreign Economic Policies of Advanced Industrial States,” published in 1978. It argues that political scientists must understand a country’s domestic politics to understand how it reacts economically.

Katzenstein developed this approach for another decade — writing two more books on the role small states play in world markets. This emphasis on domestic politics was, according to Katzenstein, fairly new to the study of international relations.

The award also recognizes Katzenstein’s collaboration with graduate students and professors across the country to write “Culture of National Security,” published in 1996. The book focused on how cultures and norms shape how countries define their interests.

This new way of thinking about international relations merged with the evolving constructivist approach in international relations. Katzenstein continued this research in a book of his own on the security policies of Japan and Germany, also published in 1996.

Beyond these two major works, Katzenstein has written or edited more than 40 books and written 170 other publications.

However, “this is different in the sense that it is recognizing work over a lifetime and in different fields,” Katzenstein said.

While Katzenstein said receiving the award is a big honor, he said that it’s coming at a “very strange moment in our lives.”

“We live in this moment of sadness and uncertainty and it is difficult getting your head and heart wrapped all around this prize,” Katzenstein said.

The prize award ceremony was supposed to take place at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, during the last weekend of September 2020. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Johan Skytte Foundation is currently unsure what will happen.

Katzenstein said he assumed the event might be delayed until next year, as when the festivities will happen depends on the spread of the outbreak.