News | Jan. 6, 2022

In Memory of Minerva-funded Researcher, Robert Jervis

By Toni DeVille

Robert Jervis, Minerva-funded researcher and the Adlai E. Stevenson professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, died on December 9, 2021.

Jervis was an internationally renowned scholar of international politics, security policy, decision-making, and theories of conflict and cooperation. His writing on these topics, including work supported by Minerva, shaped how strategists think about security decision-making and global interconnectivity.  Jervis’s first Minerva-funded project was “Culture in Power Transitions: Sino-American Conflict in the 21st Century”, which was a quantitative analysis of how the United States and China have employed culture to promote their rise to power and expand their influence around the world. He was also a Co-principal investigator with Jason Healey on the “Strategic Dynamics of Cyber Conflict” project.

Dr. David Montgomery, Director of the Minerva Research Initiative, noted that “Jervis made significant contributions to improve our understanding of complex systems and the importance of the psychological context in international politics, especially related to perception and misperception.  His Minerva-funded research not only advanced theory on the interconnectedness of politics and social life, it was readily accessible for policymakers to use in thinking through the problem-sets they face on a daily basis.”

While Robert Jervis’s contributions to Minerva were significant, his career contributions helped redefine the field of international relations and national security.  In Columbia’s announcement of his death, it highlighted that “Jervis’ scholarship continues to define the field to this day, and two of his seminal books, The Logic of Images in International Relations (1970) and Perceptions and Misperception in International Politics (1976), are as relevant and influential today as they were when they came out. Jervis’ writing received many awards and honors throughout his career in recognition of his immense contributions to the field. His System Effects: Complexity in Political Life (1997) was a co-winner of the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Psychology Section Best Book Award, and The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution (1989) won the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.”

Read the obituary posted by the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and in the Washington Post.