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 is in three broad areas. The first focuses on globalization and its effects, with particular emphasis on the labor and environmental impacts of economic integration. Recent work has involved exploring the policy implications of a world in which most international trade is conducted within "global value chains," and in which a relatively few large firms enjoy considerable power in defining the terms of trade. His book Interpreting NAFTA: The Art and Science of Political Analysis (Columbia University Press, 1998) chronicled the history of NAFTA and explores the nature of the political processes that created NAFTA, both within and among Mexico, Canada and the United States .
Mayer's second line of research concerns the role of stories in politics. His forthcoming book Narrative and Collective Action (Oxford University Press, 2014) argues that shared stories are essential tools for enabling communities to overcome free riding and other obstacles to collective action. Most recently, Mayer has begun working on the politics of climate change. A Harvard Shorenstein Center Working Paper documented how the story of climate change told in American media shifted from 2001 to 2010, likely leading to a decline in support for taking action, and a recent report issued by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions summarized American public attitudes about climate change and climate change policy, In addition to his academic experience, Mayer served as senior international trade and foreign policy advisor to former U. S. Sen. Bill Bradley from 1992 to 1993. In previous 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. From 1997 to 2000, he was director of Duke’s Center for North American Studies.
Mayer received an A.B. in history and literature from Harvard College, and an M.P.P. and a Ph.D. in public policy, both from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.