‘One of the most influential scholars of international relations’: UC Berkeley political science professor Robert Powell dies

photo of Bob Powell

Robert “Bob” Powell, campus political science professor, died Dec. 13. 

Powell taught an undergraduate course on game theory in the social sciences and has written two books: “In The Shadow of Power: States and Strategies in International Politics” and “Nuclear Deterrence Theory: The Search for Credibility,” according to the Department of Political Science website.

Jack Paine, a political science professor at the University of Rochester, began his doctorate at UC Berkeley in 2010 with Powell as his dissertation advisor.

“Bob is one of the most influential scholars of international relations in the past three-plus decades,” Paine said in an email. “He was an extremely helpful adviser. He would quickly find the main problem in whatever you were working on and help you to figure out how to improve it.”

Powell’s research focused primarily on conflict and politics in weakly institutionalized states, as well as the general causes of war, according to the department website.

Paine said Powell helped “pioneer” the field of formal models and international relations, contributing to knowledge in areas such as strategies of nuclear deterrence and the bargaining theory of war.

“Bob anchored international relations and formal theory at Berkeley for the past three-plus decades,” Paine said in the email. “Although I had many great mentors at Berkeley, I likely would not have attended or succeeded at Berkeley without Bob.”

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