Biography

Frederick “Fritz” Mayer is the Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation and a Professor of Public Policy, Political Science and Environment at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Mayer teaches the Hart Leadership course “Narrative and Leadership” at the Sanford School that draws on literature from social movements, political campaigns, sports, and community initiatives to examine the roles of stories and storytelling in public life.

Mayer’s research covers three broad areas. The first concerns globalization and its implications for public policy and governance, including the role of corporate responsibility. Recent work in this vein includes “Regulation and Economic Globalization: Prospects and Limits of Private Governance” (with Gary Gereffi, Business and Politics, 2010) and “Leveraging Private Governance for Public Purpose: Evolving Roles for Business, Civil Society, and the State in Labor Regulation” (in the Handbook on the International Political Economy of Governance, edited by Nicola Philips and Anthony Payne, 2013). His most cited work, Interpreting NAFTA: The Art and Science of Political Analysis (Columbia University Press, 1998) explored the politics that created NAFTA, both within and among Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Mayer’s second major area of research concerns the role of stories in politics and policy making. His forthcoming book, Narrative Politics: Stories and Collective Action (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2014), argues that shared narratives are the fundamental human device for enabling communities to act collectively.

The third area of Mayer’s research is the politics of climate change, particularly the role of political communication in shaping beliefs and in supporting or obstructing environmentally responsible policies. A recent policy brief, “Americans Think the Climate is Changing, and Support Some Actions” (with Alex Pfaff and Sarah Adair), issued by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, summarized original survey and focus research on the state of US public opinion on climate change policy.

Mayer has taught at Duke since 1988. He was the chief architect of Sanford’s flagship introductory course in public policy (formerly PPS 55) and was the lead teacher of that course through the 1990s. As director of graduate studies at the Sanford School from 2000-2009, Mayer led the expansion of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program, created and directed the PhD Program in Public Policy, and founded the Sanford School’s Program in Global Policy and Governance, a summer program for graduate professional students in Geneva, Switzerland which he continues to direct. Mayer was also director of the Center for North American Studies from 1997 to 2000.

In addition to his academic experience, Mayer served as senior international trade and foreign policy advisor to former U. S. Senator Bill Bradley from 1992 to 1993. In other stints in Washington, Mayer served as an aide to Congressman Sander Levin, as a policy analyst at the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, and as editor at the Close Up Foundation, an educational non-profit organization.

Mayer received an A.B. in history and literature from Harvard College, and both an M.P.P. and a Ph.D. in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.