The Center for Political Economy at Columbia World Projects identifies and advances the most promising contemporary developments within economics and promotes a new political economy with a robust institutional, cross-disciplinary orientation.
“With the creation of this center, Columbia University will be joining a critically important national and global effort to address the nature of political economy and how it determines matters such as the distribution of wealth and the relationship of the public and private spheres of our lives,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “I can’t think of a subject more urgent or consequential, and I’m deeply grateful to the Hewlett Foundation for its support.”
The economic shocks generated by the financial meltdown of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic have catalyzed a wide range of fresh thinking. Not just financial or viral crises, but soaring inequalities, transformations to the scale of firms, often beyond effective regulation, inadequate investments in public goods, and global supply chain limitations have called into question the adequacy of inherited economic frameworks, especially radical market-based approaches that often go hand in hand with budgetary austerity.
At the same time, a new intellectual ferment is underway. We are witnessing a sprouting of post-neoliberal theory and an empirical turn in applied research, and liberation from a fixation on efficiency as the primary criterion to evaluate market outcomes. Further, scholarship concerning the zone of political economy is bringing economics into conversation with other disciplines, as scholars respond to the multiple dimensions of inequality—attending not only not only to vital assets like housing and medical care, but also to access to dignity and respect, heightened political as well as economic uncertainty, and fractured institutions.
The Center for Political Economy is motivated by these contemporary circumstances, with confidence that renewed thinking in economics and interdisciplinary engagement can generate feasible policy ideas, advance equitable prospects to better secure and share prosperity, help ensure a sustainable environment, and undergird representative democracy.
With support from the Hewlett Foundation, the center builds upon initiatives and programs across Columbia University, spanning disciplines and fields of inquiry including economics, history, law, political science, sociology, public health, engineering, and data science. At the core of its engagements, the center seeds new research, prompts scholarly publications and policy outputs, fosters curricular materials that will feed into textbooks and coursework, and creates and deepens networks of scholars and practitioners among the Columbia community and beyond.
At the core of its work, the center is developing “idea labs'' to serve intellectual and policy incubators across distinct themes. The center will launch two labs in its inaugural year. The first, on “firm size and antitrust” matters, will explore the conditions that shape how and when firms compete, cooperate, collude, merge, and exclude rivals, push prices below competitive rates for suppliers, compete for investors and labor, deal with activists or enlist government support to access resources or dampen competition. It will consider alterations to antitrust analysis and law that today’s major transformations warrant, and propose conceptual frameworks and policy options fit for our new economic reality. The second, on “work and labor,” will be oriented to the forces, institutions, and ideas that regulate labor and labor markets, with a focus on the modes of collective action by workers, as well as the interactions among workers, employers, markets, and the larger society. It will also concentrate on the future of labor movements at home and abroad, with an emphasis on technological transformations.
Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Constitutional Governance, Columbia Law School
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University; Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects
Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law and Director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation, Columbia Law School
Project Director, Center for Political Economy Columbia World Projects
Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School
Jerome B. Sherman Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
María Victoria Murillo
Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Columbia University
Professor of History, Barnard College
Joseph E. Stiglitz
University Professor, Columbia University
Director of the European Institute and Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History, Columbia University
Director of the Justice Lab and Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Columbia University
Faculty Grant Opportunity
CPE is accepting applications for $10,000 to $60,000 in grant funding from eligible Columbia University faculty until Tuesday, March 7 at 5:00 PM ET.
- Columbia Global seeks a Project Officer to support the implementation of the new Center for Political Economy and its strategic growth. This includes working with the Project Director and faculty co-directors to support and advance the planning, management, and implementation of the Center’s work plans, activities and initiatives. The PO will work to maintain/advance established collaborations with key partners, stakeholders and supporters. The PO will work independently and collaboratively on matters of research, analysis, coordination, development of programming and administration. Access the full position description and submit an application, resume, and cover letter.
CPE Book Series:
Recently, a spate of economists have authored conceptual books on topics of interdisciplinary and cross-sector import for an audience broader than their field. Meanwhile, scholars from other disciplines are tackling pressing problems of political economy from a range of perspectives. To spur engagement between economists and scholars and practitioners from other disciplines, this series will bring together diverse perspectives in an open dialogue.
- January 19: Leah Boustan discussing Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success
- March 9: Claudia Goldin discussing Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey toward Equity
- March 3: Constitutional Political Economy Conference
- April 13-14: The Non-Market Effects of Market Power
- May 4: Bradford DeLong discussing Slouching Towards Utopia
- September 21: Legal History Workshop with Gary Gerstle
- September 30 - October 1: The Future of the Labor Movement Conference
- October 21: Connecting the Dots: Globalization, Intermediation, and Efficiency
- October 24: The Legacy of Frances Perkins, Pioneer for Social Justice