In recognition of Francis Fukuyama’s impact on the understanding of the modern world that is free of authoritarian political regimes, thanks to which it is possible to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia and of the University of Tartu, the University of Tartu has conferred on him the degree of Honorary Doctor in Social Sciences
Francis Fukuyama was born in Chicago, United States of America in 1952, and received his bachelor’ degree at Cornell University. Thereafter he took a master’s course in comparative literature at Yale University, USA, but became disillusioned and continued at Harvard University, where he was supervised by Samuel Huntington and other outstanding political scientists.
In 1979 he defended his doctoral thesis on the Soviet threats to intervene in the Middle East and the possibility of war.
After graduating with a PhD from Harvard University (USA), Francis Fukuyama joined the RAND Corporation, one of the leading global policy think tanks.
From 1996–2000 he was the Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University and next he went to work as the Director of the International Development Program at John Hopkins University. He was a member of the United States President's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2004.
He has also been involved in international politics. For example, in 1989 he served as a United States’ delegate to the Egyptian-Israeli conference on Palestinian autonomy.
Since 2010, Francis Fukuyama is a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, and the Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, which also hosts former Estonian President Toomas-Hendrik Ilves.
Francis Fukuyama is one of the most influential social and political scientists of modern times, whose ideas have shaped the views and concepts of thousands of other researchers. According to Google Scholar, his works have been cited 86,558 times as of 28 April 2018. The End of History and the Last Man alone has been cited more than 20,000 times. His second most-cited work is “Trust” (1995) with approximately 18,000 citations.
There are several reasons why an unknown young professor suddenly became one of the world’s most prominent intellectuals for the wider public. One reason is definitely the fact that in 1989 he announced to the entire world that the fall of the Soviet Union and communism in the Cold War would mark the end of history. According to Fukuyama, the political evolution of the world reached the end of history, confrontation would be replaced by western liberal democracy as the dominant form of government in the world. Although China, Russia and North Korea show that the thesis of the end of history was somewhat premature, Fukuyama’s ideas were important also for the restitution of independence in Estonia and joining the rest of Europe.
Francis Fukuyama has been to Estonia, for example in 2001, when he emphasised in his speeches that Estonia was one of the most convincing examples of the end of history, the end of authoritarian regimes in the modern world. He has done a lot to introduce the progress in Estonia, for example the e-solutions that help to promote democracy and good governance.
It can be argued without doubt that social capital has been the most explored concept in social sciences in the last twenty or so years, and Fukuyama in his monograph Trust made a great contribution to the development of this concept. A crucial concept created by Fukuyama is the radius of trust, which shows how far people’s trust extends beyond their core family. Namely this concept has served in recent years as the virtual joint project of Stanford University and the University of Tartu, raising the concept of social capital to the status of a key problem in all social sciences.