iOS app Android app

Derek Shearer
Ambassador Derek Shearer is currently Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He also serves as Director of Global Affairs, handling the college’s international relations and directing the expansion of its international affairs programs.

Derek Shearer served in the Clinton administration as an economics official in the Commerce Department, and then as Ambassador to Finland (1994-97). Among his many accomplishments were the creation of the administration’s coordinated strategy to the Nordic-Baltic region and the hosting of the Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Helsinki. After diplomatic service, Ambassador Shearer was a fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute and then at the Woodrow Wilson Scholars Center in Washington, DC. He also was a visiting Woodrow Wilson fellow and ambassador-in-residence at a number of colleges. He served as a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Gore during the 2000 Presidential campaign and to Senator Hillary Clinton in the 2007-2008 Presidential primary. He endorsed and supported Senator Obama in the general election. The report of his Occidental seminar on American Grand Strategy--titled "Rebranding America" and the report, "Obama's First Year," are available on line at:

Ambassador Shearer’s articles on foreign affairs and public policy have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, and many weekly and monthly publications. He has authored numerous scholarly and policy articles in books and journals---and has lectured at leading universities in Europe, Asia, and Australia, including speaking tours for the US government in China, Japan, Greece, Australia, and the Baltic States,Chile, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Syria, Peru and Bolivia—and he taught at the University of Maryland, Tufts, and UCLA, as well as at Occidental. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an US-Japan Leadership Fellowship, and a Swedish Bicentennial Fellowship, among other honors—and he is listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, and other such publications. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for Public Diplomacy located at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. Ambassador Shearer also served a political advisor to the US military, and was the moderator of the Chiefs of Defense meetings for US Pacific Command in Honolulu in 2005, and for Central Command in Tampa, FL in 2008. Earlier in his career, he was an official in state and local government in California. His public policy books include Economic Democracy (co-author Martin Carnoy), A New Social Contract (with Carnoy and Rumsberger), Putting People First--1992 Program of the Clinton-Gore campaign (with Magaziner, Reich, et al), and the Public Policy Reader (edited with Lee Webb). President Clinton followed Ambassador Shearer's recommendation to create a National Economic Council in the White House to coordinate overall economic policy.

Ambassador Shearer has also taught courses in business and entrepreneurship, served on the boards of media and food companies, and as an international adviser to Ziff Brothers Investment Co, and other firms. He serves on the board of the nonprofit relief group Operation USA, and is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy. He currently resides in Pacific Palisades, CA. with his wife Sue Toigo and two dogs, and two cats.

His executive assistant Marisa Macaskill (tel.323-259-2681) coordinates his schedule. Email:

Entries by Derek Shearer

War and Peace in a Jittery Nation: Obama's Last Year and After

(65) Comments | Posted December 17, 2015 | 12:24 PM

America is a jittery nation this holiday season.

It's not easy to remain cool and calm let alone joyful in the face of media reports of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, shootings at schools and medical facilities, or videos of police encounters in American cities.

Our daily life was...

Read Post

All Hail Music Diplomacy: B.B. King Departs the Global Stage

(3) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 9:36 AM

Legendary blues guitarist and singer B.B. King died last week. He was a global ambassador for American culture. King performed in Russia, China and Europe, and while in his 80s, he was still playing concerts in Denmark, Germany and France. He was an embodiment of American Soft Power, expressing the...

Read Post

Barack Obama and the Chocolate Factory: A Long Good-bye to a Messy 2014

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 12:39 PM

President Obama has a small circle of friends and a sweet tooth. While campaigning in Seattle in 2008, he tried Fran Bigelow's sea salt chocolate caramels. Fran and her family run a small high-quality chocolate factory. She ignited the sea salt chocolate caramel craze in the US, and continues to...

Read Post

The Silly Season: The Fuss Over Graduation Speakers

(2) Comments | Posted May 13, 2014 | 1:52 PM

It's graduation time. The Silly Season has arrived again.

Protesters are claiming scalps, forcing the cancellation of big-name speakers. Condoleeza Rice, former secretary of state, withdrew from speaking at Rutgers commencement in the face of student protest over her role in the Bush administration. Brandeis withdrew...

Read Post

The Ambassadude Abides: Mandela, Obama and the Arc of History

(2) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 9:10 AM

I had just finished a holiday lecture "Can Sports Bring World Peace?" when news of Nelson Mandela's death was announced. In a fall course on sports and diplomacy at Occidental, I required students to watch the movie Invictus which depicts how Mandela as president made a choice to reach out...

Read Post

When Obama and Xi Meet, Make It a Green Summit

(153) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 2:08 PM

In preparing for his first summit with China's president Xi Jinping, President Obama might well peruse the detective novel, Don't Cry, Tai Lake, by Qiu Xiaolong, a Chinese writer and intellectual who teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. Supposedly on vacation, Shanghai chief police inspector Chen arrives in the...

Read Post

Obama's Second Term: Dead Already or Strategic Awareness?

(166) Comments | Posted May 9, 2013 | 4:35 PM

Is Barack Obama already a lame duck president?

I hope not. It wouldn't be good for the country, and it would certainly disappoint my students who have written policy memos for his second term.

I've just finished teaching a seminar at Occidental on American Grand Strategy (which a few of...

Read Post

Celebrating the Season and Obama's Victory: Will He Be a Great President?

(60) Comments | Posted December 6, 2012 | 2:23 PM

This holiday season, I'm most grateful for President Obama's hard fought win at the polls. At a time of high unemployment, facing a vicious, lie-based attack fueled by millions in donations from right wing individuals, coupled with unscrupulous attempts to suppress voter participation, the country's first black president won a...

Read Post

After Obama Wins: What to Expect, What to Work for

(649) Comments | Posted August 8, 2012 | 10:11 AM

The waning days of summer are not a bad time to consider what an Obama second term might mean for the country. Olympic fever is almost past, the NFL season hasn't started, and the hoopla of the two national conventions is not yet a distraction. The race seems Obama's to...

Read Post

Can Sports Save the World? Reflections of a Former Little Leaguer on Sports, Diplomacy, and Globalization

(48) Comments | Posted June 8, 2012 | 11:58 AM

This weekend, my hometown Los Angeles Kings will play the Devils in New Jersey for the Stanley Cup hockey championship -- a sport which originated in Canada and is played professionally in the U.S. by stars from Finland, Sweden, and Russia, as well as Canada and the U.S. Not much...

Read Post

Bye-Bye LAX, Hello LIZ: Honoring Elizabeth Taylor and Rebranding Los Angeles Airport

(8) Comments | Posted February 1, 2012 | 4:46 PM

As the race for the next Mayor of Los Angeles begins to heat up, a vital issue of public policy has gone unaddressed -- the uninspiring name of our hometown airport, currently known as LAX.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has been sending residents a fancy brochure titled...

Read Post

Looking for a Lady Gaga Xmas and Finding Justin Bieber: What to Gift Obama and Occupy

(26) Comments | Posted December 8, 2011 | 9:14 AM

It's a disappointing year when Justin Bieber has a Christmas album called Under The Mistletoe and Lady Gaga has not yet done hers. What's a music loving family to do? The best I can suggest is Tony Bennett's, The Classic Christmas Album. Bennett deserves a shout-out for showing up at...

Read Post

Memo to Occupy! How to Keep the Movement Alive, Spread the Message and Change the World

(49) Comments | Posted October 12, 2011 | 4:15 PM

Two cheers for Occupy!

Abrazos from California to all those willing to take action and make a statement against the economic status quo and politics as usual. Your spirit and activism are cheering to those of us from the 60s generation who have not given up on...

Read Post

Thinking About Obama: How to Support the President in 2012

(257) Comments | Posted September 12, 2011 | 11:51 AM

"How should we think about Obama?"

My friend and former State Senator, Sheila Kuehl likes to get right to the serious stuff.

I recently had a catch-up lunch with Sheila, a fourteen-year veteran of the California legislature (she left because of term limits), author of over 170 bills, including paid...

Read Post

Obama and Rising Powers: Foreign Policy in Tough Economic Times

(138) Comments | Posted June 30, 2011 | 4:44 PM

Does Obama have a coherent foreign policy -- and does it matter?

Tufts professor Daniel Drezner discusses these questions in the current issue of Foreign Affairs and answers in the affirmative. Drezner, who is well known for his witty treatise on Zombie theories of...

Read Post

Winter of Discontent: Can Obama Get His Groove Back?

(100) Comments | Posted December 3, 2010 | 2:52 PM

President Obama needs more economic and political soul, if he is to get his groove back.

It's early December, and it's already cold out there. The political atmosphere in Washington, DC is decidedly chilly for progressives, and the compromises coming from the lame duck session of Congress won't be...

Read Post

Bridging the Enthusiasm Gap: Obama and the Conventional Wisdom

(401) Comments | Posted October 16, 2010 | 12:35 PM

The profile of Barack Obama by Peter Baker in the New York Times Sunday magazine ("The Education of A President") has a "woe is me" tone. Obama and his White House team seem a little too sorry for themselves and lack genuine self-analysis of the president's political...

Read Post

Happy Days Are Not Here Again: Obama, China and the Coming Great Contraction

(466) Comments | Posted August 25, 2010 | 4:39 PM

Happy Days are not coming any time soon to America -- and not to most of the world.

This summer has convinced me that it is realistic -- not pessimistic or fatalistic -- to believe that we have reached the twilight of the oil-industrial age. A global reckoning is coming...

Read Post

The Occidental President: Obama and Teachable Moments

(19) Comments | Posted May 11, 2010 | 3:00 PM

In his new biography The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, author David Remnick describes how a young Barry Obama discovered the value of a liberal arts education.

During his two years at Occidental College in Los Angeles, one of the nation's leading liberals arts colleges, Obama learned...

Read Post

Passage to India: Monsoon Wedding Meets Slumdog Professor

(9) Comments | Posted February 24, 2010 | 10:54 AM

A few weeks ago in New Delhi it felt like I had walked on to the set of A Great Big Indian Wedding, become a cast member, and had the film become reality.

My wife Sue and I were members of an Indian wedding -- dancing,...

Read Post