Ernest James Wilson III
Wilson III
Professor of Communication and Political Science; Former USC Annenberg Dean; Founder, Center for Third Space Thinking


Communication (BA)
Communication (PhD)
Public Diplomacy (MPD)




ASC 307F

More Ernest




Economics and Entrepreneurship
Information and Communication Technologies
International Relations
Public Diplomacy

Center Affiliation

Center for Third Space Thinking
Center on Public Diplomacy
USC Annenberg School Leadership

Ernest J. Wilson III, Ph.D., professor of communication and political science, is founder and director of the USC Center for Third Space Thinking, devoted to research, teaching and executive education on soft skills in the digital age. He is also a faculty fellow at USC Annenberg’s Center on Public Diplomacy, a member of the board of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from 2000–2010, the last year as chairman, and served as dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism from 2007–2017. Through the Center for Third Space Thinking, Dr. Wilson’s most recent research focuses on critical workforce competencies and talent and skills development in the 21st Century. As a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (2017–2018), he currently is writing a book on utilizing competencies via the framework of Third Space Thinking.

Dr. Wilson’s experience at the intersection of communication and public policy spans the private and public sectors. He has served as a consultant to international agencies such as the World Bank and the United Nations, worked in government at the White House National Security Council and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and led research centers and academic departments at premier institutions of higher education.

With an academic focus on the convergence of communication and information technology, public policy, and the public interest, Dr. Wilson is a student of the “information champions,” the leaders of the information revolution around the world. His current work concentrates on China-Africa relations, global sustainable innovation in high-technology industries, and the role of politics in the diffusion of information and communication technologies.

In addition to his most recent books — Governing Global Electronic Networks and Negotiating the Net: The Politics of Internet Diffusion in Africa — Dr. Wilson co-founded and co-edited the MIT Press series The Information Revolution and Global Politics and the journal Information Technologies and International Development.

Nominated by President Clinton in 2000, Dr. Wilson served on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting until November 2010. He founded the board’s New Digital Media Committee and Public Awareness Initiative Committee. He is a member of the Carnegie-Knight Commission on the Future of Journalism Education and The National Academies Board on Research Data and Information. He was deputy director of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission from 1994 to 1995.

Dr. Wilson’s other government experience includes service as director of International Programs and Resources on the National Security Council at the White House (1993–94) and director of the Policy and Planning Unit, Office of the Director, U.S. Information Agency (1994). He advised President Obama’s transition team on matters of communication technology and public diplomacy.

Formerly a professor and senior research scholar at the University of Maryland, College Park, Dr. Wilson was director of that university’s Center for International Development and Conflict Management from 1995 to 2002. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Wilson is the recipient of numerous research fellowships and awards, including the Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Communication section of the ISA, an International Affairs Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He serves on the editorial advisory board for Demand Media, a leader in online content creation and social media.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Dr. Wilson earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. from Harvard College. He is married to Francille Rusan Wilson, Ph.D., a labor and intellectual historian. They have two sons.


International Studies Association 2009 Distinguished Scholar (International Communication section)
Fellow, Annenberg Center for Communications, USC
Fellow Center for Global Communications, Tokyo, Japan 1997 - present
Senior Scholar, Center for Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California
Twenty-Five Year Achievement Award, Public Policy and International Affairs Program,
Washington, D.C., Nov. 2005
Professor-in-Residence and W.E.B. DuBois Lecture, George Mason University, Spring 1998
International Affairs Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, 1985-1986
Grantee, National Science Foundation, 1983-1986
Outstanding Young Men of America, 1983
Grantee, "Public Sector-Private Sector Relations in Africa"
Gilbert White Fellow, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. 1980-81 Grantee, Rockefeller Family and Associates, "The Institutionalization of Alternative Energy Technologies in Africa," 1979-81
Post Doctoral Fellow, Southern Fellowship Fund, 1980
Ford Foundation Post Doctoral Fellow, Alternate, 1980
Post Doctoral Fellow, J. F. Kennedy School of Government, and Joint Fellow, Energy and Environmental Policy Center, and Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, 1980
Andrew W. Mellon/Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies Fellow, 1979-80
Ford Foundation Doctoral fellow, 1972-76
University Consortium for World Order Studies Fellow, 1975-76
Ford Foundation Middle East and Africa Research Fellowship for Afro-Americans, 1975
First Prize, W.E.B. Dubois National Essay Award, 1975
African American Scholars Council Grantee, 1973
Ralph Bunche Fellowship, Finalist, 1973
Graduate Minority Program (Berkeley) Fellow, 1972
American Political Science Association, Fellow, 1972
Michael Clarke Rockefeller Fellow, 1970
Harvard Regular Scholarship, 1966-70


Books and Monographs:

Governing Global Electronic Networks (MIT Press, 2008)

Negotiating the Net: The Politics of Internet Diffusion in Africa (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006)

The Information Revolution and Developing Countries (MIT Press, 2003)

Diversity and U.S. Foreign Policy (Editor, Routledge Press, 2004)

Are Poor Countries Losing the Information Revolution? (with Francisco Rodriguez, infoDev, 2000)

Globalization Information Technology, and Conflict in the Second and Third Worlds, A
Critical Review of Literature
(Project on World Security, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, 1998)

Global Information Revolution and Africa (CIDCM Working Paper, March 1997)

The United States and Africa: Toward A New Relationship (with David F. Gordon, report of a study funded by the Ford Foundation, published by the Center for International Development and Conflict Management, April 16, 1997)

National Information Initiatives: Political Vision and Public Policy (MIT Press, co-editor with Brian Kahin, 1997)

Does the Global Information-Highway Lead to Africa? (Center for Strategic and International Studies CSIS Notes, May 1996)

International Economic Reform: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives (Editor, C.R.E.D., 1991)

Politics and Culture in Nigeria (Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 1988)

Privatization In Ivory Coast: Three Case Studies (Center for Business and Government, J. F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1987)

The Decade of Energy Policy: Policy Analysis in Oil Importing Countries (with Paul Kemezis, Praeger, 1984)


The Information Revolution and Global Politics (Co-editor)

Information Technologies and International Development (Founding Editor)


PDF icon Is there Really a Scholar-Practitioner Gap? Ernest Wilson III.pdfIs There Really a Scholar-Practitioner Gap? An Institutional Analysis (American Political Science Association)