Baker is an international authority on the Arab and Islamic world. The author of critically acclaimed studies of Islam and Arab societies, his most recent book, One Islam, Many Worlds of Muslims, Oxford University Press, 2015, is a comparative study of the roots of Islamic renewal, in particular within Egypt, Turkey, and Iran. BookList cited it as one of the ten most important books in 2015 on religion and spirituality.
A President Emeritus of the International Association of Middle East Studies, he is also a board member of the International Council for Middle East Studies, and founding member and director of the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies. He consults periodically for the State Department, the Department of Defense, USAID, and other government agencies and private foundations.
In teaching and research, Baker employs a pragmatic, inquiry-based approach, focusing on questions and the use of logic and persuasiveness of evidence to answer them, while at the same time stressing the relationships between the theoretical and the practical.