Robert H. Nelson has been a professor at the School of Public Policy of the University of Maryland since 1993. He is a nationally recognized authority on land and natural resource management in the United States, with a particular emphasis on management of federally owned lands. He has written widely on the relationship of culture and religion and economic policy. His writings have appeared in more than 100 professional journals and edited book collections, including the Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Political Economy, Land Economics, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, Case Western Reserve Law Review, Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, The New Atlantis, Pace Environmental Law Review, and William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review.
He is the author of ten books: Lutheranism and the Nordic Spirit of
Social Democracy: A Different Protestant Ethic (Aarhus University Press, Denmark, 2017); God? Very Probably: Five Rational Ways to Think about the Question of a God (Cascade Books, 2015); The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010); Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government (Urban Institute Press, 2005); Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001, second edition 2014); A Burning Issue: A Case for Abolishing the U.S. Forest Service (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); Public Lands and Private Rights: The Failure of Scientific Management (Rowman & Littlefield, 1995); Reaching for Heaven on Earth: The Theological Meaning of Economics (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991); The Making of Federal Coal Policy (Duke University Press, 1983); and Zoning and Property Rights (MIT Press, 1977).
Mr. Nelson has written widely for broader audiences in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Atlanta Constitution, Denver Post, The Weekly Standard, Reason, Technology Review, Liberty and many other publications. He was an occasional columnist for Forbes magazine from 1993 to 2000.
Before coming to the University of Maryland, Mr. Nelson worked in the Office of Policy Analysis of the Interior Department — the principal policy office serving the Secretary of the Interior — from 1975 to 1993. He has served as the senior economist of the Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing (Linowes Commission); senior research manager of the President’s Commission on Privatization; and economist for the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. He has been a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution; visiting senior fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; visiting scholar at the Political Economy Research Center (in Bozeman, MT); visiting research associate at the Center for Applied Social Science at the University of Zimbabwe; research fellow at the International Center for Economic Research (in Turin, Italy); visiting professor at Keio University (in Tokyo, Japan); visiting professor at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (in Buenos Aires, Argentina); visiting research associate at the School of Economics of the University of the Philippines, and visiting fellow at the Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki..
He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University (1971).