In Remembrance: James Q. Wilson

James Q. Wilson's passing has spurred many eulogies and remembrances. We have gathered some of the more prominent articles from the RAND and PRGS community to share.

Francis Fukuyama

In his blog on The American Interest, Fukuyama shares his memories of Wilson:

    I never studied with Jim Wilson while getting my degree in the Harvard Government Department, though he was there at the time. My contacts with him came later, when we served together on the President’s Council on Bioethics in the early 2000s, and as fellow members of the Board of Governors of the Rand Graduate School. Jim in addition graciously agreed to serve on the editorial board of The American Interest. Of course the way I got to really know him was through reading his books, from early ones like City Politics to the later volumes like Crime and Human Nature, which he wrote with Richard Herrnstein, and The Moral Sense. Unlike many narrow-minded political scientists, Jim was very happy to make use of new research coming from the life sciences and to apply it to contemporary social behavior.

    Many of the obituaries and remembrances of Jim Wilson have focused on what was probably his most famous article, “Broken Windows,” which he co-authored with criminologist George Kelling in the Atlantic Monthly back in 1982. As many have noted, this article was responsible for the shift in policing that took place in New York City during the 1980s, that laid the groundwork for the city’s subsequent recovery from crime and decay over the following decade. I’ve always thought that it would be a uniquely satisfying experience for an academic to write an article that would actually have a concrete beneficial impact on the lives of people around you, as this one surely did.

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Arthur Brooks

PRGS Alumnus Arthur Brooks (cohort '96), president of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a commentary in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday, March 3:

    This week, America lost the most influential social scientist of the past 100 years. James Q. Wilson died at the age of 80.

    Wilson had an extraordinary career. He taught political science for many years at Harvard, UCLA and other universities, and he was affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute since 1976, serving as the chairman of AEI's Council of Academic Advisors until his passing. He was the author of more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles, from the best-selling textbook "American Government" (with John Dilulio) to the enormously influential essay "Broken Windows" in the Atlantic (with George ...

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Susan L. Marquis

PRGS dean Susan L. Marquis described the importance of Wilson's seminal textbook, Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It, in RAND's obituary for him:

    Understanding government agencies—that's something Jim took seriously. It's easy to belittle government agencies and bureaucracies, but these are places filled with people dedicated to public service, to our country, and often operate under remarkable constraints.

    Jim's legacy of ideas and ideals will be carried on through his enduring scholarship, and through the newly established James Q. Wilson Dissertation Award and the James Q. Wilson Public Policy collection at PRGS.

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