Patrick Mendis is a Harvard Kennedy School’s former Rajawali senior fellow and a current associate-in-research of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. He is serving as a commissioner of the US National Commission for UNESCO at the State Department.
He also serves as a visiting fellow at Peking University’s School of International Studies, a visiting researcher of China’s national Confucius Research Institute in Qufu, a senior fellow of the Pangoal Institution in Beijing, and a distinguished visiting professor of international politics at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Professor Mendis is a distinguished scholar and senior expert for the US Confucius Institute at George Mason University (GMU), where he is serving as an adjunct professor of geography and geoinformation science and had earlier served as a distinguished senior fellow and affiliate professor of public and international affairs at the School of Public Policy. His most recent book includes, Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a Pacific New World Order (foreword by Professor Jack Goldstone at GMU).
In 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed him as a commissioner to the United States National Commission for UNESCO. He was then reappointed for another term in 2015 by Secretary of State John Kerry. Previously, he was appointed by the George W. Bush administration to serve as a governing board member of the Graduate School of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). His other government and international experience includes positions in the Minnesota House of Representatives, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the World Bank, and the United Nations.
Prior to joining GMU, Dr. Mendis served as the vice president of academic affairs at the Osgood Center for International Studies and a visiting foreign policy scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). While at SAIS, he authored two books: Trade for Peace (foreword by Professor Brian Atwood, former dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota) and Commercial Providence: The Secret Destiny of the American Empire (foreword by Professor Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus of the George Washington University).
Before returning to academia, Professor Mendis served as an American diplomat under both Secretary Madeline Albright and General Colin Powell. Joining the Department of State as a mid-career science and diplomacy fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Dr. Mendis served as a foreign affairs officer and chaired a number of US interagency policy working groups, managed the State Department’s international educational and cultural programs, advised the US Delegations to the United Nations, coordinated science and technology policy with the White House, and served as vice chair of the Secretary’s Open Forum. He also lectured at the George Shultz Institute of Foreign Service. For his leadership and service, he was recognized with the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and other honors. After his diplomatic assignments, Dr. Mendis worked as a consulting economist at the US Department of Energy’s Center for Global Security Research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
Prior to serving in the State Department, he was a military professor in NATO as well as the US Pacific Command through the University of Maryland. For his teaching, leadership and service, he was selected by faculty and students for the Stanley Drazek Teaching Excellence Award. Professor Mendis joined the Maryland faculty after his teaching and research career at the University of Minnesota, where he has established the Edward Burdick Legislative Award, honoring the late Burdick, former chief clerk and parliamentarian of the Minnesota House of Representatives. In 2013, he received the Alumnus of Notable Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota.
In 2004, Dr. Mendis served as a visiting professor of economics and public policy at the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea Program and authored a book based on his global voyage, Glocalization: The Human Side of Globalization as If the Washington Consensus Mattered (foreword by the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke of the King’s College in London). He also taught at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University and the George Washington University. He was a visiting professor of economics and management at the Leningrad State University in the former Soviet Union and a visiting professor of American studies at Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xi’an as well as a distinguished visiting professor of international relations in the Center for American Studies at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China.
An alumnus of the Harvard Executive Leadership Program at the Kennedy School of Government, he earned his PhD in geography/applied economics and agriculture from the University of Minnesota, MA in international development and foreign affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and BS in business administration and economics (First Class Honors) from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka. A Socrates fellow at the Aspen Institute, he also attended Oxford University’s Merton College as a Twenty-first Century Trust fellow and Columbia University as a Coolidge research fellow.
Author of more than 100 books, journal articles, newspaper columns and government reports, Dr. Mendis has received numerous awards and honors for his leadership, public service and philanthropic activities. These include the Hubert Humphrey Outstanding Leadership Award, the University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service, the United Nations Medal for the International Year of the Youth, the Harold Stassen Award for United Nations Affairs, the USDA Graduate School Outstanding Service Award, and the Exceptional Achievement Award in International Diplomacy. He has lived, traveled, and worked in more than 100 countries and visited all 50 US states and more than 25 provinces of China, including Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet.
A fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, Dr. Mendis serves as an advisor to the Harvard International Review, an editor of The Public Manager, an advisor to The Encyclopedia of the Sri Lankan Diaspora at the National University of Singapore, and a councilor on the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni DC Council Board. In 2015, he established the Millennials Award for Leadership and Service at Harvard University.
He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. Professor Mendis is a former American Field Service (AFS) exchange scholar from Sri Lanka to Minnesota.