Jim Collins was born in Boston and grew up in Hartford, CT, learning basketball on the local blacktop. A lifelong gym rat, he played basketball in high school and college, and, somewhat later, as a member of Hi Noon, who won seven Georgetown intramural championships before disbanding in 2001. His life experiences include stints as a utility man in a ball-bearing factory, as an electrician, as a golf caddy (a peerless laboratory for studying human nature), as a sportswriter, and as a consultant for the United Nations Population Fund, to mention a small sample. Much of what he understands about history, he learned at those jobs. He enjoys cooking and good wine, hardly surprising for someone who has spent much of his life in New York City and Paris.
He has been at Georgetown since 1985, becoming a Professor of History in 1992. He's been the Director of Graduate Studies in History (1991-95) and the Chair of the History Dept (2000-03). He has recently had the opportunity to live, teach, and lecture in Paris, Florence, Warsaw, and London; he looks forward to future such hardship duty. In spring 2011, he was Professeur invité at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris; in spring 2013, he was Professeur invité at the Collège de France. Those lectures, in an expanded version, have now been published under the title La monarchie républicaine (2016). In 2009, he received the “Medal of Meritorious Service to Polish Education” (Medal Kimisji Edukacji Narodowej) awarded by the Ministry of Education of Poland. In October 2014, Georgetown honored him with the Presidential Scholar-Teacher Award [instituted in 2013].