In 1965, Robert Keohane completed his PhD dissertation at Harvard University on the politics of the UN General Assembly. The question he tried to answer was whether institutions matter in explaining state behavior, or whether the latter could be deduced solely from the distribution of power. Over 30 years later, Keohane is still examining this question, and the ways in which he dealt with the question over the years have put him on the list of the most important political thinkers of our time.
Keohane was born in 1941 at the University of Chicago Hospitals. When he was 10, the family moved to Mount Carroll, Illinois, where he attended public school; after the 10th grade, at the age of only 16, Keohane was an early entrant to Shimer College, a small offshoot of the College of the University of Chicago, where his parents were professors.
In 1965, he took up a teaching position at Swarthmore College. In 1969, after joining the board of editors for the journal International Organization, which has since become one of the leading journals in the field, Keohane began his remarkable research collaboration with Joseph S. Nye. He moved to California in 1973 to teach at Stanford University. In 1985, Keohane returned to Harvard, where he stayed for the next decade. In 1996, he was appointed James Duke Professor of International Relations at Duke University.