From the late 1940s until the late 1990s he taught at Cornell University, UC Berkeley and other universities. He has authored books that criticize capitalism in general, and US capitalism in particular.
Now in his eighties and semi-retired, he continues to publish and has for many years offered a free class in San Francisco, California where he used to live for half the year. Now he lives full-time in Bologna, Italy. He teaches at the nearby University of Modena.
Many of his writings and audio transcripts are available on his web site: http://www.dougdowd.org.
He is the son of a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. The strong dislike for each side of the family for the other side lead him to embrace an anti-religious attitude during his youth. He claims to be "non-religious" but its not clear whether he is agnostic or atheistic in his belief. He was a young man during the US Depression years, and lived through and participated in most of the major social and political events over the decades. He was a pilot for the United States during WW II, for example. His teaching and writings are peppered with colorful anecdotes and language, adding a very personal touch to his teaching. (Plus, his comprehensive knowledge of history and historical events provides an excellent background to his "I was there" and "I did this" adventures.)
Dowd was one of the nominees of the Peace and Freedom Party for Vice President in the 1968 U.S. presidential election. He agreed to be on the ticket in New York in order to prevent the selection of Jerry Rubin. The party's presidential candidate that year was Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, who finished a distant fifth in the election.