HKS Authors

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Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus


Some academics say that while the growing gap between theory and policy may have costs for policy, it has produced better social science theory, and that this is more important than whether such scholarship is relevant. Also, to some extent, the gap is an inevitable result of the growth and specialization of knowledge. Few people can keep up with their subfields, much less all of social science. But the danger is that academic theorizing will say more and more about less and less....The solutions must come via a reappraisal within the academy itself. Departments should give greater weight to real-world relevance and impact in hiring and promoting young scholars. Journals could place greater weight on relevance in evaluating submissions. Studies of specific regions deserve more attention. Universities could facilitate interest in the world by giving junior faculty members greater incentives to participate in it. That should include greater toleration of unpopular policy positions....


Nye, Jr., Joseph S. "Scholars on the Sidelines." Washington Post, April 13, 2009.