- Professor, Columbia University
- Former Director, Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Columbia University
- Professor, International Business School of Suzhou
- Professor Emeritus, Columbia Business School
Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science
Professor Nathan’s teaching and research interests include Chinese politics and foreign policy, the comparative study of political participation and political culture, and human rights. He is engaged in long-term research and writing on Chinese foreign policy and on sources of political legitimacy in Asia, the latter research based on data from the Asian Barometer Survey, a multinational collaborative survey research project active in eighteen countries in Asia.
Professor Nathan is chair of the administrative committee of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and chair of the Morningside Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Columbia. He served as chair of the Department of Political Science, 2003–2006, chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2002–2003, and director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, 1991–1995. Off campus, he is cochair of the board, Human Rights in China, a member of the boards of Freedom House and of the National Endowment for Democracy, and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch, Asia, which he chaired, 1995–2000. He is a member of the steering committee of the Asian Barometer Surveys; the regular Asia and Pacific book reviewer for Foreign Affairs magazine; and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Democracy, The China Quarterly, The Journal of Contemporary China, China Information, and others. He does frequent interviews for the print and electronic media, has advised on several film documentaries on China, has consulted for business and government.
Professor Nathan’s books include Peking Politics, 1918–1923 (University of California Press, 1976); Chinese Democracy (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985); Popular Culture in Late Imperial China, coedited with David Johnson and Evelyn S. Rawski (University of California Press, 1985); Human Rights in Contemporary China, with R. Randle Edwards and Louis Henkin (Columbia University Press, 1986); China’s Crisis (Columbia University Press, 1990); The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress: China’s Search for Security, with Robert S. Ross (W. W. Norton, 1997); China’s Transition (Columbia University Press, 1997); The Tiananmen Papers, coedited with Perry Link (Public Affairs, 2001); Negotiating Culture and Human Rights: BeyondUniversalism and Relativism, coedited with Lynda S. Bell and Ilan Peleg (Columbia University Press, 2001); China’s New Rulers: The Secret Files, coauthored with Bruce Gilley (New York Review Books, 2002, 2nd ed., 2003); Constructing Human Rights in the Age of Globalization, co-dited with Mahmood Monshipouri, Neil Englehart, and Kavita Philip(M.E. Sharpe, 2003); How East Asians View Democracy, coedited with Yun-han Chu, Larry Diamond, and Doh Chull Shin (Columbia University Press, 2008); and China’s Search for Security, coauthored with Andrew Scobell (Columbia University Press, 2012). His next projects are a coedited volume called Ambivalent Democrats, which analyzes data from the Asian Barometer Surveys, and a single-author study of sources of political legitimacy in Asia.Professor Nathan’s articles have appeared in World Politics, Daedalus, The China Quarterly, Journal of Democracy, Asian Survey, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, The Asian Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere. His research has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and others. He has directed five National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars.
Professor Nathan received his degrees from Harvard University: the BA in history, summa cum laude, in 1963; the MA in East Asian Regional Studies, in 1965; and the PhD in Political Science in 1971. He taught at the University of Michigan from1970 to 1971 and has been at Columbia University since 1971.