John W. Sommer is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Knight Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and former Dean of the School of Social Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is a member of the Royal Society of New Zealand and New Zealand Association of Scientists, was a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors and Chair of the International Committee of the scientific research society Sigma Xi and the Charlotte Area Science Network. He is on the editorial boards of Conversations in Philanthropy and Cosmos and Taxis, an on-line journal of emergent orders.
Before joining the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Professor Sommer taught at Dartmouth College and the University of Texas at Dallas. His past public service includes Deputy Director for Science Resource Studies at the National Science Foundation and Senior Advisor for Science and Technology for the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Professor Sommer served on the Board of Advisors and Co-Chair of the Judges Panel for the George and Cynthia Mitchell Prize for Sustainable Development and Chair of the Young Scholars Mitchell Prize Competition, and he has been Chair of the Policy Advisory Board of the Houston Advanced Research Center. He is the Founder of the Charlotte Area Science Network and a member of the Advisory Board of The Philanthropic Enterprise and Vice-Chair of Classical Liberals in the Carolinas.
The author of the books, Human Geography in a Shrinking World and A Study Guide for Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, Professor Sommer is former Chairman of the Political Economy Research Institute and a former member of the Board of Directors of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He received his A.M. and Ph.D. in geography and African studies from Boston University and his A.B. in geography from Dartmouth College.