Since his retirement, Prof. Baker is not updating this site, but for updates of his activity, you should go to www.randallbaker.org
Professor Baker is interested in using the unique SPEA structure to bridge the gap between the natural and social sciences within the aegis of policy. To this he adds a consuming interest in comparative study for the perspective it brings to the factors that are normally implicit, buried, or simply overlooked when we analyze problems. The third element in his array of intellectual fascinations is a consuming passion for the oft-neglected element of history, which adds provenance to problem-solving.
In recent years this has led him to publish several books that exemplify the congruence of these various elements. The first of these, in 1992, was
Environmental Management in the Tropics: An Historical Perspective, in which he illustrated the rationale of so-called "traditional" systems of land use. He then went on to explore the way in which the explosion of colonial Europe from the fifteenth century caused a total redirection in the evolution of these ancient systems in non-Western cultures, and created the divided world economy, and much of the distortion in tropical land-use we see now.
Blending the Environmental and the Comparative, Professor Baker published a study entitled Environmental Law and Policy in the United States and the European Union, exploring the way that center-periphery relations operate in the "federal" structures of both institutions and how these two richest agglomerations in the world deal with the undesirable consequences of prosperity. This research was a joint venture with faculty at the universities of Rotterdam and Leiden in the Netherlands.
In a book published in 1995, entitled Comparative Public Management, Baker explored the usefulness of looking at other developed democracies as a mirror for our own policy debates. He tried to recast the conventional approach to comparative study, moving it away from a descriptive concern with the way other countries do what they do, to an analytical tool for uncovering the inherent cultural properties of our own policies and the associated policy process. This book was written at the request of the professional body for public affairs to provide a tool for "internationalizing" the core elements of the MPA degree--something that has remained astonishingly parochial for decades despite the inconvenience of reality.
Following a Fulbright Senior Fellowship in 1992, in Bulgaria, Professor Baker developed an all-consuming interest in institution-building for the transition to democracy. As part of this, he worked to build the first MPA program in that country, at the New Bulgarian University, where he is currently a member of the Board of Trustees. This work resulted in two publications: the book Transitions from Authoritarianism, which compared the transformation of the public service in both former right-wing, and left-wing, dictatorships. An English-language account of his experiences building the new program appears in his book Summer in the Balkans. More latterly, the Academy of Sciences in Sofia published, in Bulgarian, his book Do Sofia i Nazad, and in 2004/5 will publish, also in Bulgarian his study Strange Places: Interesting People that looks at the persistence of political anomalies through a number of case studies.
Over his professional career, Professor Baker has developed new schools in the United Kingdom (where he was dean in the 1970s); Bolivia, Spain, Bulgaria, and most recently, Azerbaijan, where he handed over the new School of Public Administration and Environmental Management in the summer of 2003. He has been honored with two honorary degrees, two Fulbright fellowships, and awards from numerous other organizations. Presently, he is working with historian, John Karaagac, on a new book entitled Why America Isnít Europe.