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Passing of George Modelski

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on February 22, 2014 - 1:00pm

George Modelski, Professor Emeritus of our department, passed away at his home in Washington, DC on February 21, 2014. 

Modelski was on our faculty for nearly 30 years, beginning in 1967 until his retirement in 1995.  He completed his PhD in International Relations at the University of London in 1955.  Before coming to the UW, he was a senior research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University.  After his retirement, he moved to Washington, DC where he remained active in research, conferences, and publishing.

He was a major contributor to international relations theory, the study of multinational corporations as actors in international relations, and the study of leadership in international relations.  He is best known for his work on long-cycles in global politics in depicting regularities in the rise and decline of world powers from the 15th century to the present.  That work appeared in a 1987 book Long Cycles in Global Politics (Macmillan) and was further developed in a 1988 book Seapower in Global Politics 1494-1993 (Macmillan with William Thompson) along with numerous articles and book chapters.  Modelski saw long-cycles as a mechanism of evolutionary world politics, and more broadly system evolution.  This appeared among other works in a 2008 co-edited book Globalization as Evolutionary Process: Modeling Global Change (Routledge with Tessaleno Devezaras and William Thompson).  Modelski's work has been widely cited and is a standard reference in textbooks on international relations.

During his academic career, Modelski held a number of positions in the profession and received a number of honors.  He was Co-President and President of the International Studies Association 1980-82, and chair of the UW Pacific Northwest Colloquium on International Security 1982-1991.  In 2012 he was awarded the Bronze Kondratieff Medal, which is provided by the Kondratieff Foundation and the Russian Academy of Sciences in citing his outstanding contributions to the development of the social sciences.

In addition to his lasting scholarly imprint on the field of international relations, Modelski spurred two generations of graduate students to work on various aspects of long-cycle theory.  That training and the dissertations he supervised launched careers of a number of UW PhDs who have gone on to make their mark in the profession.  Among these, William Thompson is now Distinguished Professor and Donald A. Rogers Professor of Political Science at Indiana University.