Jack Donnelly

Jack Donnelly


What I do

Most of my teaching and research in recent years has been in the area of International Relations Theory, although I still keep my hand in Human Rights, where I did most of my work during the first three decades of my career. I am particularly interested in ways of thinking about international politics and international systems that make globalization appear as a more or less "normal" phenomenon involving ongoing processes of continuous transformation that are reassembling, rather than radically altering, social and political worlds.

Professional Biography

I was born and raised in Mt. Vernon, New York. I had the good fortune to be a student in DC during the Nixon era of Vietnam protests and Watergate, before heading west to Berkeley for my Phd. (Like a good New Yorker of my generation, I had been to Europe a number of times but never west of Pittsburgh.) After stints in the Boston area and at Chapel Hill, I came to DU in 1992 – and hope to have the good fortune to die here at my desk in my nineties.


  • Ph.D., Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1982
  • MA, Government, Georgetown University, 1975
  • BSFS [Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service], Georgetown University, 1973


I am best known as a scholar of human rights. My books Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice and International Human Rights are among the most cited IR works in the field. I have also done important scholarly and teaching-oriented writing on political realism. And over the past decade, I have focused my attention on reconceptualizing the nature of international political systems and the study of historical international societies, in order to better understand the patterns of continuity and change associated with "globalization."

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