Nils Petter Gleditsch at 75


20 July 2017

Nils Petter Gleditsch at 75
Photo: Martin Tegnander / PRIO
On 17 July 2017, Nils Petter Gleditsch, Research Professor at PRIO and former editor of the Journal of Peace Research turned 75 years old. He was born 17 July 1942 in Sutton, Surrey, Great Britain.

Nils Petter has been working at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) since 1964, when he first arrived as a student. He was Director of PRIO in 1972 and 1977–78. In the early 2000s, he initiated what was to become PRIO’s Centre for the Study of Civil War, the first ever Norwegian Centre of Excellence in the social sciences. He formally retired in 2012, but remains an active PRIO researcher on a project basis.

After a brief period as editor of the Journal of Peace Research (JPR) in 1976–77, Nils Petter Gleditsch served as editor-in-chief for the journal consecutively from 1983 until 2010. He has maintained close ties with JPR, and guest edited the highly successful 2012 special issue on ‘Climate Change and Conflict’. During Gleditsch’s long-standing editorship, the journal made its way to the core of international relations research, and in recent years the journal has regularly been among the top ten most cited journals in international relations and political science. A lasting legacy of Gleditsch’s  editorship is his pioneering effort to establish replication standards and good data-sharing practices in political science and IR. Since 1998, authors of JPR articles have been required to post online any quantitative data they use.  

Gleditsch is recognized as a leading academic authority on the ‘democratic peace’ (e.g. Hegre et al., 2001: ‘Toward a Democratic Civil Peace?’) and on ‘environmental conflict’ (e.g. Gleditsch, 1998: ‘Armed Conflict and the Environment: A Critique of the Literature’). He was also instrumental in the backdating of the UCDP-PRIO armed conflict dataset to 1945, producing the most used conflict dataset in the world and one of the most cited articles in International Relations during the last decade (Gleditsch et al., 2002: ‘Armed Conflict 1946–2001: A New Dataset’). 

He has maintained an impressive academic publication record even after formally retiring from PRIO in 2012. His stated ambition is to each year publish an article in a journal in which he has not previously published. His recent academic achievements speak to his appreciation of important current disciplinary debates, publishing on gender gaps in publication patterns and citations. In November 2016, his Norwegian-language popular science monograph Mot en mer fredelig verden? [‘Towards a More Peaceful World?’] was launched. The book draws in large parts on his life-long research on the patterns and causes of armed conflict, and other works inspired by it.

Nils Petter Gleditsch has been the recipient of many honors and prizes. He received the Lewis Fry Richardson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, awarded by the ECPR’s Standing Groups on Analytical Politics and International Relations. He was elected to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in 1998 and to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in 2007. In 2009 he was the sole recipient of the Research Council of Norway’s award for research excellence, and he served as President for the International Studies Association (ISA) from 2008–09. In 2011 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conflict Processes Section of the American Political Science Association, and in 2016 he was honored with the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Peace Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
Gleditsch studied under and worked for several of the founding fathers of peace research, including Johan Galtung, J. David Singer and Rudolph Rummel. Gleditsch has edited a recent book on one of these pioneers, Rudolph Rummel.

He is now himself recognized as one of the key pioneers and major figures of the discipline. On the day of his 75th birthday the Peace Science Society announced that Nils Petter Gleditsch is the 2017 recipient of the organization’s Founders' Medal for his many scientific contributions to peace research. The prestigious Founders' Medal, awarded every four years, recognizes ‘an individual who has made significant and distinguished life-long scientific contributions to peace science’. Gleditsch is the first researcher at a European institution to receive the award, and only the fifth recipient overall. The past winners of the Medal are J. David Singer (2001), Walter Isard (2005), Bruce Russett (2009), and Dina Zinnes (2013). In 2015, Springer published the anthology ‘Nils Petter Gleditsch: Pioneer in the Analysis of War and Peace’ in their book series on ‘Pioneers in Science and Practice’. 

Last, but not least, Gleditsch is recognized as a superb mentor and supervisor. In his dual capacity as PRIO Research Professor and Professor II in the Sociology/Political Science department at NTNU Trondheim, Gleditsch has supervised around 50 graduate students in political science, sociology, economics, and history. Many more have benefited from his informal supervision and mentoring. 

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