Ben Wildavsky

Visiting Scholar


  • B.A., Yale University, 1986

Visiting scholar Ben Wildavsky is a veteran higher education writer, strategist, speaker, and podcast host. He is working on a book for Princeton University Press on the ideal combination of broad and targeted education, skills, and social capital needed for career success. He spent many years as a journalist with publications in U.S. News & World Report, National Journal, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. He is the author of The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World (Princeton University Press, 2010). In addition, he has co-edited books on the reinvention of higher education (Harvard Education Press, 2011) and standardized testing and college admissions (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). 

He has been a senior scholar at the Kauffman Foundation, guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, policy professor at SUNY-Albany, and director of higher education studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He has held leadership positions at U.S. News, the College Board, and most recently Strada Education Network. As Strada’s senior vice president for national engagement, he launched and hosted the Lessons Earned podcast, led major partnerships with Lumina and Deloitte, shaped strategy, and spoke regularly at national events. He received a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature (Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude) from Yale University in 1986.

Wildavsky’s book The Great Brain Race won critical praise, including extensive reviews and coverage in publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Nature, and Times Higher Education. It was the winner of the Frandson Award for Literature in the Field of Continuing Higher Education and was translated into Korean and Vietnamese. The book resulted in a two-year engagement for Wildavsky as a blogger on globalization for the Chronicle of Higher Education. It also led to 70 speaking appearances in 16 U.S. states and in 11 foreign countries, including at Google, the World Bank, Harvard University, the London School of Economics, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).