Robert “Bob” Nelson shared his passion and curiosity, in and out of the classroom, with the entire School of Public Policy community. He was a well-respected scholar and prolific author of ten books and numerous articles.
Throughout his career, Bob explored a wide variety of topics from forest mismanagement to economics to environmental religion to public land rights. In 1993, he came to the School of Public Policy. He taught courses on environmental policy, natural resources and other policy areas. He worked to guide students through policy analysis workshops and field-based policy exercises.
During his career, Bob worked as a nonresident senior fellow at The Independent Institute, an affiliated senior scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He was also a visiting professor at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.
Earlier in his career, Bob was also a member of the economics staff at the Office of Policy Analysis of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. His career in economics included stints at the Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing and the Twentieth Century Fund. He was a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, visiting senior fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and research associate at the Center for Applied Social Sciences of the University of Zimbabwe.
Bob was the author of several books, including “Lutheranism and the Nordic Spirit of Social Democracy: A Different Protestant Ethic” (2017); “God? Very Probably: Five Rational Ways of Thinking about the Question of a God” (Cascade Books, 2015); “The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America” (Penn State University Press, 2010); “Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government” (Urban Institute Press, 2005); “Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond” (Penn State University Press, 2001); and “A Burning Issue: A Case for Abolishing the U.S. Forest Service” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).
In addition to his impressive list of publications, Bob was known for his curiosity and his ability to look at new or old issues in new ways. He will be deeply missed at the School.
We encourage you to share your thoughts and memories of Bob below. Please note: entries are published daily rather than instantaneously.