Stephen Cornell, PhD

Stephen Cornell, PhD

Faculty Chair and Co-Founder of the Native Nations Institute
Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Faculty Affiliate, James E. Rogers College of Law
Emeritus Director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy
Emeritus Professor of Sociology

Stephen Cornell is emeritus professor of sociology, emeritus director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, and faculty chair of the Native Nations Institute, all at the University of Arizona. He also is a faculty affiliate with the university’s James E. Rogers College of Law and its School of Government and Public Policy. He is co-founder and co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development at Harvard University.

A political and cultural sociologist, Cornell received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1980. He taught at Harvard University for nine years before moving to the University of California, San Diego, in 1989 and then to the University of Arizona in 1998. In the late 1980s, at Harvard, Cornell and economist Joseph P. Kalt founded the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development; they continue to direct that project today. In 2000-2001, Cornell led the development of the Native Nations Institute, an outgrowth of the Harvard Project, at the University of Arizona.

Cornell has written widely on Indigenous affairs, economic development, collective identity, and ethnic and race relations. Among his published books are The Return of the Native: American Indian Political ResurgenceWhat Can Tribes Do? Strategies and Institutions in American Indian Economic Development (co-edited with Joseph P. Kalt); Ethnicity and Race: Making Identities in a Changing World (co-authored with Douglas Hartmann); Native Nations and U.S. Borders: Challenges to Indigenous Culture, Citizenship, and Security (co-authored with Rachel Rose Starks and Jen McCormack); and Reclaiming Indigenous Governance: Reflections and Insights from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States (co-edited with William Nikolakis and Harry Nelson). He also has published a number of academic papers on Indigenous governance and development, including “’Wolves Have a Constitution’: Continuities in Indigenous Self-Governance” (in International Indigenous Policy Journal), “Processes of Native Nationhood: The Indigenous Politics of Self-Government” (in International Indigenous Policy Journal), and, most recently, “From Rights to Governance: Transformations in Indigenous Politics in the CANZUS States” (in Reclaiming Indigenous Governance: Reflections from Canada, Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the United States, University of Arizona Press, 2019).

Cornell has spent most of his professional career working with Indigenous nations and organizations in North America, Australia, and New Zealand on governance, economic development, and tribal policy issues.


For information about the publications listed here, including how to obtain copies if you are unable to access them via the links provided, contact Stephen Cornell at

Access publications and watch videos featuring Dr. Cornell on the Indigenous Governance Database.