William H. Riker Prize
In recognition of scholarly achievement that
exemplifies and advances the scientific study of politics
in the spirit of
William H. Riker
and the department that he helped to build
2014 Margaret Levi
Jere L. Bacharach Professor of International Studies, University of Washington
Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
2012 John Ferejohn
Samuel Tilden Professor of Law, New York University
2010 Howard Rosenthal
Professor of Politics, New York University
For advancing the scientific study of politics by systematically linking formal and empirical inquiry into the enduring features of representative institutions. See full citation.
2008 Elinor Ostrom
Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, Indiana University
For advancing the scientific study of politics through research on the institutions governing common-pool resources in political, economic and environmental contexts and for demonstrating the implications of that research for effective policy. See full citation.
2006 Barry R. Weingast
Ward C. Krebs Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
For advancing the scientific study of politics through research in positive political theory and its application to the analysis of administrative, economic, legal and political institutions. See full citation.
2004 Gary W. Cox
Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego
For advancing the scientific study of politics by integrating the theoretical and empirical analysis of democratic institutions. See full citation.
2002 Norman J. Schofield
William Taussig Professor of Political Economy, Washington University in St. Louis
For advancing the scientific study of politics through research on positive political theory and its implications for the analysis of democratic institutions. See full citation.
2000 Robert H. Bates
Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University
For advancing the scientific study of politics through research on the political economy of developing nations in Africa. See full citation.
The William H. Riker Prize
The William H. Riker Prize for Political Science is awarded to a social scientist in recognition of a body of research that exemplifies and advances the scientific study of politics in the spirit of William Riker. It was created by the students, friends, and colleagues of Riker, and it is financed by an endowment built from their individual contributions and administered by the University of Rochester.
The Riker Prize recognizes a sustained research program or coherent collection of published research that has, in the view of the Riker Prize Committee, advanced the scientific study of politics through excellent, theoretically informed study of real-world politics, creative and influential theoretical study of political phenomena, and the productive combination of theory and empirical study. It is intended neither as an award for a single work nor as a lifetime achievement award. It may be awarded for work outside the specific areas in which Riker conducted his research and, in keeping with the high value Riker placed on interdisciplinary social science, may be awarded for research conducted outside the discipline of political science that has strongly influenced the discipline.
The Riker Prize winner receives a monetary award, currently set at $3,000, and is invited to the University of Rochester to present the Riker Lecture and to celebrate the award at a Riker Prize banquet.
In addition to honoring the memory of William Riker, the Riker Prize is intended to continue two projects to which Riker devoted so much of his career--promoting the scientific study of politics and, through bestowing the award and hosting award winners, building the Department of Political Science at the University of Rochester.
Riker's Contribution to Political Science
William H. Riker believed that the scientific study of politics depended on combining, within the discipline, excellent and creative empirical study with incisive and well-developed deductive theory. His own work was an exemplar of both aspects of political science and of their fruitful combination. Just as important, he built a political science department at the University of Rochester and fostered major changes in the discipline as a whole that advanced this approach to the field.
In Riker's view, all aspects of academic political science were part of the same unified enterprise. Through undergraduate teaching, graduate advising, university administration, research, publication, and the administration and organization of major professional organizations, he discovered new knowledge, disseminated that knowledge, and influenced the activities of other social scientists along productive avenues of discovery.
Administration of the Riker Prize
Frequency of award
The prize may be offered as often as annually, but will be offered less often if no suitable honorees can be identified or if the endowment does not permit. Currently, endowment funds are sufficient to finance the award every second year into the indefinite future.
Current and recent faculty members and recent PhD graduates of the University of Rochester's Department of Political Science are ineligible for the prize. Previous winners are eligible to be recognized again for a separate body of work.
The Riker Prize Committee
The Riker Prize Committee consists of at least three persons serving rotating three-year terms. At least one is a faculty member at the University of Rochester; at least one other is an alumnus or alumna of the Rochester Political Science program. Additional members may be contributors to the Riker fund or previous winners of the Riker Prize. The chair of the Rochester Political Science Department appoints the required faculty member of the committee; other members are nominated by the committee and must be approved by the chair of the Rochester Political Science Department. The members of the 2000 Riker Prize Committee were Randall Calvert (chair), Richard F. Fenno, Jr., David Rohde, and Kenneth A. Shepsle. The members of the 2002 Riker Prize Committee were James Johnson (chair), David Rohde, and Kenneth A. Shepsle. The members of the 2004, 2006, and 2008 Riker Prize Committee were James Johnson (chair), Robert Bates, and John Huber. The members of the 2010 Riker Prize Committee were James Johnson (chair), Gary Cox, and Wendy Schiller. The members of the 2012 Riker Prize Committee are James Johnson (chair), Barry Weingast, and Georg Vanberg.
Approval of the award
Because the award is administered by the University, the decisions of the Riker Prize Committee must be approved by the chair of the University of Rochester Political Science Department. It is the intent of the founders and contributors of the Riker Fund that the composition of the committee and the nature of the awards will continue to reflect, as appropriately as possible, the scientific values of William Riker.
Announcement of the award
The committee will arrange to announce each award of the Riker Prize through prominent outlets in the profession, such as the newsletters and program booklets of the larger professional associations. They will also, as much as possible, continue to inform contributors about the awarding of the prize.
The administrators of the Riker Prize welcome contributions of any size. Please send contributions to the attention of the Riker Prize Committee, c/o Professor Gretchen Helmke, Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Rochester, Harkness Hall 333, Rochester, New York 14627-0146.