Robert W. Cox

York University Order of Canada Montreal

Robert Warburton Cox CM (1926 – October 9, 2018) was a Canadian scholar of political science and a former United Nations officer. He was cited as one of the intellectual leaders, along with Susan Strange, of the British School of International Political Economy[1] and was still active as a scholar after his formal retirement, writing and giving occasional lectures. He was professor emeritus of political science and social and political thought at York University.

He started work at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland in 1947, eventually serving as director of their International Institute for Labour Studies (1965–71). During his directorship he was appointed Professor at the University Institute for International Relations of Geneva University which allowed him to hold seminars there and supervise Ph.D students. Following his departure from the ILO he taught at Columbia University. From 1977 to 1992 he was professor of political science at York University in Toronto, Canada. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2014.


Born in Montreal, Quebec, Cox graduated in 1946 from McGill University in Montreal, where he received a Master's degree in history. Following his graduation, he worked for the International Labour Organization (ILO), where he would remain for a quarter century, helping to set up and design the International Institute for Labor Studies.

In his academic career, Cox is known for his fierce independence and unwavering challenge of orthodoxy, as well as for his historical approach. While his initial scholarly contributions during his time at Columbia University were quite conventional and focused on international organizations, following from his experience in the ILO, he soon adopted a more radical perspective. During his time at York University, he began to reassert himself in a historical manner, reflective of his previous training at McGill University, which enabled him to take on more ambitious themes. Cox describes his academic interests as no less than understanding "the structures that underlie the world".[2] Cox died on October 9, 2018.[3]


Edited works


  1. ^ Cohen, B. (2008) International Political Economy: An Intellectual History, Princeton: Princeton University Press
  2. ^ Cox, Robert (1999). "Conversation". New Political Economy. 4 (3): 389–398.
  3. ^ Robert Cox