About the Speaker

Thomas Schelling earned a PhD in economics from Harvard and is currently professor of foreign affairs, national security, nuclear strategy, and arms control at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was awarded the 2005 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for “having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.” Dr. Schelling served with the Marshall Plan in Europe, the White House, and the Executive Office of the President from 1948 to 1953 and held faculty positions in economics at Yale and then Harvard, holding the title of Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy in the Kennedy School for 20 years. His book, The Strategy of Conflict, pioneered the study of bargaining and strategic behavior and developed the concept of the focal point, now commonly called the Schelling point, and is cited as one of the one hundred books that have been most influential in the West. Schelling’s economic theories about war were extended in Arms and Influence (1966). In 1971, he published a widely cited article dealing with racial dynamics called “Dynamic Models of Segregation” which showed that a small preference for one’s neighbors to be of the same color could lead to total segregation. Schelling has been involved in the global warming debate since chairing a commission for President Carter in 1980 and was one of the experts who participated in the 2007 Copenhagen Consensus. He believes climate change poses a serious threat to developing nations, but that the threat to the United States has been exaggerated. Drawing on his experience with the post-war Marshall Plan, he has argued that addressing global warming is a bargaining problem: if the world is able to reduce emissions, poor countries will receive most of the benefits but rich countries will bear most of the costs.