Barry Cooper, a fourth generation Albertan, was educated at Shawnigan Lake School, the University of British Columbia and Duke University, where he received his doctorate in 1969. He taught at Bishop's University, McGill, and York University before coming to the University of Calgary in 1981. For the past twenty-five years he has studied western political philosophy, both classical and contemporary. Much of his teaching has focused on Greek political philosophy whereas his publications have been chiefly in the area of contemporary French and German political philosophy. Over the years he has spent considerable time in both countries, teaching and doing research.
Cooper's other area of continuing interest has been Canadian politics and public policy. Here he has brought the insights of political philosophers to bear on contemporary issues, including the place of technology and the media in Canada, the on-going debate over the constitutional status of Quebec, and the precarious status of Canadian defence and security.
He is the author, editor, or translator of 30 books and has published over 150 papers and book chapters. He writes a regular column in the Calgary Herald.