• Headshot of James Robinson
    James A. Robinson
  • Chris Blattman standing with arms crossed.
    Christopher Blattman
  • Oeindrila Dube
    Oeindrila Dube
  • Roger Myerson
    Roger Myerson

James A. Robinson

Institute Director, The Pearson Institute
Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies and University Professor, Harris School of Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

An economist and political scientist, Robinson has conducted influential research in the field of political and economic development and the relationships between political power and institutions and prosperity. His work explores the underlying causes of economic and political divergence both historically and today and uses both the mathematical and quantitative methods of economics along with the case study, qualitative and fieldwork methodologies used in other social sciences.

Robinson has a particular interest in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and is a Fellow at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. He taught a summer school at the University of the Andes in Bogotá between 1994 and 2022. He has conducted fieldwork and collected data in Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. He has published three books co-authored with Daron Acemoglu, an Institute Professor of Economics at MIT. The first, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, proposed a theory of the emergence of and stability of democracy and dictatorship. Their second book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (translated into 41 languages since its publication in 2012), pulled together much of their joint research on comparative development and proposed a theory of why some countries have flourished economically while others have fallen into poverty. Their most recent book, The Narrow Corridor: States, Society and the Fate of Liberty, examines the incessant and inevitable struggle between states and society, and gives an account of the deep historical processes that have shaped the modern world.

Christopher Blattman

Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies
Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

Chris Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on why some people and societies are poor, unequal, and violent, and how to tackle these issues.

Blattman is the author of Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace. Most people think war is easy and peace is hard. In the book, Blattman synthesizes decades of social science and policymakers' practical experiences to argue the opposite: War is hard and finding peace is easier than you think. 

In his day-to-day research, Blattman works with governments and civil society to design and test approaches to reduce violence and poverty. Some of his ongoing work investigates questions such as: How are street gangs and other criminal groups organized in Colombia? Working with the government and civil society, Blattman tests ways to reduce the power of gangs to govern and extort civilians. What causes street violence and shootings in cities ranging from Chicago to Monrovia? Can we predict what young men are likely to be violent and help them avoid this path? Blattman is studying how employment and cognitive behavior therapy programs can reduce killings. Why do hostile groups hold on to false beliefs about one another? From India to America, what are the psychological drivers of persistent prejudice?

Most of Blattman's work uses interviews, surveys, natural experiments, lab experiments, and field experiments to tackle these questions.

Blattman holds affiliations that extend The Pearson Institute’s reach and impact. He leads the Peace & Recovery program at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the Crime and Violence Initiative at MIT’s Poverty Action Lab. He is an affiliate at the National Bureau for Economic Research, UChicago Urban Labs, the Center for Global Development, and the International Growth Center. Blattman has acted as a consultant and adviser to the World Bank, the United Nations, and governments in Uganda, Liberia, Colombia, and the United States.

Previously, Blattman was a business consultant and an accountant at Deloitte & Touche. He then served as an assistant professor of political science at Yale University and most recently as an associate professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and Department of Political Science. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in public administration and international development from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Oeindrila Dube

Philip K. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies
Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

Oeindrila Dube is the Philip K. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Dube’s research focuses on the political economy of development. She studies topics like the link between poverty and conflict, and the role of trust and institutions in the spread of epidemics. Her articles have appeared in leading journals, including the Review of Economic Studies, the Journal of Political Economy, the American Political Science Review, and Science.

In recent work, Dube has examined how community involvement affected responses to the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. In other current projects, she uses big data to understand radicalization in the Middle East, and experimentally examine strategies for improving community-police relations in the United States.

Dube is a board member and sector lead of the Crime and Violence Initiative at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), an affiliate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a fellow of Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), and an affiliate of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. She is currently also co-editor of the Journal of Development Economics and a nonresident Senior Fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at The Brookings Institution.

Dube holds a PhD in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, an MPhil in economics from Oxford, and a bachelor's degree in public policy from Stanford. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked at the World Bank, Oxfam International, and The Brookings Institution where she worked with Gene B. Sperling to establish the Brookings Center for Universal Education.

She was also the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship in 2002.

Roger Myerson

David L. Pearson Distinguished Service Professor of Global Conflict Studies
Harris Public Policy, the Griffin Department of Economics, and the College, University of Chicago

Roger Myerson bolsters The Pearson Institute’s research agenda by bringing his field-defining research in economics and political science to matters of global conflict and resolution. His scholarship on state building, conflict resolution, and architectures for democracy that promote accountability and peaceful societies, is motivated by contemporary policy challenges and embodies The Pearson Institute's mission to unite research and policy.

Myerson has made seminal contributions to the fields of economics and political science. In game theory, he introduced refinements of Nash's equilibrium concept, and he developed techniques to characterize the effects of communication among rational agents who have different information. His analysis of incentive constraints in economic communication introduced several fundamental concepts that are now widely used in economic analysis, including the revelation principle and the revenue-equivalence theorem in auctions and bargaining. Myerson has also applied game-theoretic tools to political science, analyzing how political incentives can be affected by different electoral systems and constitutional structures.

Myerson is the author of Game Theory: Analysis of Conflict (1991) and Probability Models for Economic Decisions (2005). He also has published numerous articles in professional journals, including Econometrica, Journal of Economic Theory, Games and Decisions, American Political Science Review, Mathematics of Operations Research, and International Journal of Game Theory. He has served as president of the Game Theory Society (2012-14), president of the Econometric Society (2009), and vice president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1999-2002).

Myerson has a PhD from Harvard University and taught for 25 years in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University before coming to the University of Chicago in 2001. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He has received several honorary degrees, and he received the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize in 2009. He was awarded the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in recognition of his contributions to mechanism design theory, which analyzes rules for coordinating economic agents efficiently when they have different information and difficulty trusting each other.