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Center for Political Economy

A center at Columbia World Projects.

CPE factory workers 2

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. 

Read the news announcement.

Lee C. Bollinger
President and Seth Low Professor of the University, Columbia University
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“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.”

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About

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.

Leadership

Faculty Co-Directors

Kate Andrias 
Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Constitutional Governance, Columbia Law School
Ira Katznelson
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University; Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects
Suresh Naidu
Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs, Columbia University 
Katharina Pistor 
Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law and Director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation, Columbia Law School

Advisory Board

Geoffrey Heal 
Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School
Olatunde Johnson
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
Premilla Nadasen 
Professor of History, Barnard College
Joseph E. Stiglitz
University Professor, Columbia University
Adam Tooze
Director of the European Institute and Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History, Columbia University
Bruce Western
Director of the Justice Lab and Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Columbia University

Opportunities

Get Involved

If you or your organization is interested in supporting the work of the center, please email [email protected]