Karl W. Deutsch

Karl Wolfgang Deutsch

Karl Wolfgang Deutsch born in 1912 was a Czech social and political scientist from a German-speaking family. He studied Law at the German University at Prague, where he graduated in 1934. He discontinued further studies as his overt anti-Nazi stance provoked opposition from pro-Nazi students. In 1938, after spending two years in England, Deutsch returned to Prague, where due to his former Anti-Nazi activities, he could not return to the German University. He instead joined its Czech counterpart, the Charles University, where he obtained a law degree in international and canon law and a doctorate in political sciences in 1938. That same year, which saw the Munich Agreement allowing German troops to enter the Sudetenland, he visited the United States and did not return. In 1939 Deutsch obtained a scholarship to carry out advanced studies at Harvard University where he received a second PhD in political science in 1951.

During World War II he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, and participated as a graduate student in the San Francisco conference that resulted in the creation of the United Nations in 1945. Deutsch taught at several universities; first at MIT from 1943 to 1956; then at Yale University until 1967; and again at Harvard until 1982. He served as Stanfield Professor of International Peace at Harvard, a position he held until his death in 1992. His work focused on the study of war and peace, nationalism, co-operation and communication. He is also well known for his interest in introducing quantitative methods, formal systems analysis and model-thinking into the field of political and social sciences, and is one of the most well-known social scientists of the twentieth century. Deutsch worked extensively on cybernetics and on the application of simulation and system dynamics models to the study of social, political, and economic problems, known as “wicked problems”. He built upon earlier efforts at world modeling such as those advanced and advocated by authors of the Club of Rome such as Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows, et al. (1972). He introduced new concepts such as “security community” to the literature.

He held several other prestigious positions; he was a member of the board of World Society Foundation in Zürich, Switzerland from 1984 onwards. He was also elected President of the American Political Science Association in 1969, of the International Political Science Association in 1976, and of the Society for General Systems Research in 1983. From 1977 to 1987, he was Director of the Social Science Research Center Berlin (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, WZB) in Berlin.

Selected publications by Deutsch include: Nationalism and Social Communication: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Nationality, New York (NY) 1953; Political Community at the International Level: Problems of Definition and Measurement, Garden City 1954; An Interdisciplinary Bibliography on Nationalism, 1935–1953, Cambridge 1956; Political Community and the North Atlantic Area: International Organization in the Light of Historical Experience, New York 1957; The Nerves of Government: Models of Political Communication and Control, New York 1963; Arms Control and the Atlantic Alliance: Europe Faces Coming Policy Decisions, New York 1967; The Analysis of International Relations, New Jersey 1968; Nationalism and Its Alternatives, New York 1969; Politics and Government: How People Decide Their Fate, Boston 1970; Tides Among Nations, New York (NY) 1979.

References: http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/deutsch.html

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