Earth Institute Staff Directory

Mr. Wilmot Godfrey James PhD

Visiting Professor , Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The Forum 2nd Floor
601 W 125th Street
New York City, New York 10025

BIOGRAPHY: Wilmot James is a visiting professor of political science and (non-clinical) pediatrics at Columbia University in New York City. An academic by background with a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wilmot was previously a Member of Parliament (South Africa) and Shadow Minister of Health. He served as the Chairman of the Democratic Alliance (DA), the official opposition, between 2010 and 2016. Wilmot is the author and/or editor of seventeen books that include the policy-oriented Vital Signs: Health Security in South Africa (Johannesburg, 2020), essays on the public understanding of science titled Nature’s Gifts: Why we are the way we are (Johannesburg, 2010) and an edited collection of Nelson Mandela’s presidential speeches Nelson Mandela in his Own Words (London, 2003) with forewards by Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton, which was presented to the late Mandela on his 85th birthday in July 2003. Dr. James served on the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation between 1996-2008. He has teaching experience from the University of the Western Cape and University of Cape Town and post-doctoral and visiting professorial experience from Yale University, Indiana University, Edinburgh University, the Open University and California Institute of Technology. At Columbia University, he teaches a course on catastrophic risks and conducts research in the areas of biosecurity, catastrophes and vulnerable populations, particularly children, with a focus on Africa.



1. James W. Ed. Vital Signs: Health Security in South Africa. Johannesburg: Brenthurst Foundation, 2020.
2. James W, Thomson MC, Rabie T, Shumake-Guillemot J, McDermott J and Wannous C. Health Priorities in a Changing Climate. In Thomson MC & Mason S, ed. Climate Information for Public Health Action. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; 2018.
3. James W, Mills G. South Africa and the World. Focus, J of Helen Suzman Foundation. 2016;59.
4. James W. The Meaning of Race in Modern South Africa. Focus, J of Helen Suzman Foundation. 2012;67.
5. James, W. Moments with Mandela. Cape Town: Tafelberg; 2012.
6. James W. Charles Darwin at the Cape: notes on his sociological observations. South African J of Science. 2009;105:395-396.
7. James W, Viall J, Gerwel J. Grape: Stories of the Vineyards in South Africa. Cape Town: Tafelberg; 2011.
8. James W. Nature’s Gifts: Why We Are the Way We Are. Johannesburg: WITS University Press; 2010.