Thomas Weiss was an internationally acclaimed scholar of international relations and global governance with special expertise in UN politics. He held positions as Presidential Professor at the Graduate Center of City University of New York as well as director emeritus of its Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Weiss was an esteemed scholar of international relations and global governance with particular expertise on UN politics. He held Presidential Professor status at The Graduate Center, City University of New York as well as Director Emeritus status of Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.
Weiss discussed global governance during his KGOU interview, an idea wherein international organizations and groups collaborate on problem-solving across geographical borders. He believes the current nationalistic, populist trends in electoral politics make multilateralism even more essential than before.
Weiss was raised in Havertown, Pennsylvania and attended Penn for one year prior to entering the Naval Academy. On May 18, 1968 while serving in Company M of Third Battalion Twenty Seventh Marines near Quang Nam he was killed by enemy rifle fire and died a martyr’s death from enemy gunfire.
Born the same year that the United Nations was created, Weiss has worked and studied its politics ever since its establishment in 1945. From 1998 until his retirement from academic life in 2011, he served as Presidential Professor at The Graduate Center, CUNY as Director Eminentus of Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies; since 1998 he also held Co-Chair of J Paul Getty Trust’s Cultural Heritage At Risk Project; was honored Distinguished Fellow Global Governance from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and earned Global Eminence Scholar status from Kyung Hee University Seoul
Weiss has extensive experience defending political figures and business leaders facing high stakes cases, from allegations of illegal foreign investments against former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, to victims of domestic violence as well as law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Achievement and Honors
Thomas Weiss is an internationally acclaimed scholar of international relations and global governance with particular expertise in UN politics. He holds a Presidential Professor position at the Graduate Center of City University of New York as well as being Director Emeritus of its Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.
Weiss has provided a more nuanced understanding of the nature and limits of UN authority through his research. Adhering to constructivism, he advocates a position for international organizations beyond anarchy of inter-state relations. He started the UN Intellectual History Project, proposed the “Third United Nations”, and led a team which popularized Responsibility to Protect norm.
Weiss is known for creating engaging courses with hands-on, real world approaches. Students gain geology knowledge through outdoor fieldwork that ranges from daylong investigations of local quarries and fossil beds, to month long expeditions in New Zealand or the Bahamas.
Tom was an avid hunter and sportsman who served on the Board of Directors of Strasburg Sportsmen for Youth as well as being an active member of Lancaster County Sherriff’s Association and St Leo the Great Catholic Church in Strasburg. Additionally, he owned Weiss Cleaners previously.
He is widely known for his research into the United Nations, global governance, humanitarianism, and Responsibility to Protect doctrine. As Presidential Professor at the Graduate Center and co-editor (with Rorden Wilkinson) of International Organization and Global Governance: Change and Continuity (Routledge 2014), Weiss has proven in various works that an adequate interpretation of sovereignty does not preclude intervention into mass atrocities.
Thomas has been involved with numerous film and television projects both before and since his time on Home Improvement. These include In Living Color and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter; providing voice-over for animated films like The Lion King and Tom and Huck; acting live-action roles like Speedway Junky and Wild America – to name just a few.
He graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory School in West Hills, California before enrolling at Harvard University for two years and later spending one at St Andrews University in Scotland.
He is the nephew of playwright Jeff Weiss. As a vegetarian who doesn’t use products tested on animals, he owns a lagoon-front home in Westlake Village for $683,000 which was purchased in 2000.