Robert Paarlberg '67
Robert Paarlberg’s contributions to international food and agricultural policy are stellar, and he is also a celebrated teacher and mentor.
The B.F. Johnson Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and an adjunct professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, Paarlberg has been a member of the Board of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the National Research Council of the National Academies and is a past consultant to the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, the International Food Policy Research Institute, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank.
Paarlberg was class salutatorian and a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa government major at Carleton; he earned a PhD in government at Harvard University in 1975 and joined the political science department at Wellesley in 1976. He has been an associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs since 1976 and was a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate from 1968–1969 and an officer in the U.S. Naval Intelligence Command (1969–1972).
The author of five university press books on various topics in international food and agricultural policy, Paarlberg has conducted research in 15 different African countries and provided expert testimonies to the U.S. Congress on six occasions. Two of his recent books are Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa (2008) and Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010).
He is currently completing a study of U.S. agricultural development assistance policy for the Chicago Council on Public Affairs and is writing a book on the politics of overconsumption.
Paarlberg is a recipient of Wellesley’s Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching and has delivered the college’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture. He is known for his mentorship of women and junior faculty and has twice been a scholar in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Conference and Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.
Recently, Paarlberg has commented on food and agricultural policy issues on National Public Radio, in Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy magazines, and on Atlantic.com and Bloggingheads.tv.
Paarlberg and his wife, Marianne Perlak, live in Watertown, Massachusetts.