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Center for Political Economy

A center at Columbia World Projects.

CPE factory workers 2

The Columbia Center for Political Economy 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 Emeritus 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 Emeritus 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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Launched in 2022, the Columbia Center for Political Economy has two primary goals: to identify and advance the most promising post-2008 developments within economics and to promote a new political economy with robust philosophical underpinnings. This approach is distinctive for our time, with an institutional, cross-disciplinary orientation connecting economics to history, law, political science, sociology, public health, engineering, data science and more.

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.  

As scholars grapple with questions of power, inequality and uncertainty, a  new intellectual movement is unfolding, marked by the emergence of post-neoliberal theory and an empirical turn in applied research. This movement breaks free from a fixation on efficiency as the primary criterion to evaluate market outcomes. Scholarship concerning political economy now brings economics into conversation with other disciplines, as scholars respond to the multiple dimensions of inequality — attending not only to vital assets like housing and medical care, but also to access to dignity and respect, heightened political and economic uncertainty, and fractured institutions.

The Columbia Center for Political Economy is motivated by these contemporary circumstances, confident that renewed thinking in economics and interdisciplinary engagement can generate practical policy ideas that advance prospects to secure and share prosperity, sustain the environment, and undergird representative democracy.

Supported by the Hewlett Foundation, the center expands upon existing Columbia initiatives, seeding new research, scholarly publications, policy briefs, curricular materials and networks of scholars and practitioners within and beyond the university. At the core of the center's activities are “Idea Labs,” serving as intellectual and policy incubators across distinct themes.

The ambitions of the Center rest on the understanding that the structure and movements in markets for goods, services, money and financial assets are always shaped by political forces; the economy is always a political economy.

To learn more about the Center for Political Economy and get involved, please sign up for our newsletter.

Idea Labs

The Idea Labs function as convening hubs for Columbia faculty and students to advance new thinking, affect graduate training, and incubate ideas. The Labs are designed to develop new intellectual frameworks in economics and related fields that take seriously the concepts of power, equity and uncertainty. To do so, they create opportunities for faculty and students to engage with practitioners and policymakers, and support, identify and advance the most promising recent developments.

The Labs have an intentional cross-disciplinary focus that bring together the disparate fields of economics, history, law, political science, sociology, public health, engineering, data science and other areas of study.

In total, the Center will launch four Idea Labs focused on Work and Labor, Firms and Industrial Policy, Money and Finance and the Political Economy of Climate

The Work and Labor Idea Lab investigates the forces, institutions and ideas that shape and regulate labor markets. It focuses on modes of collective action and interactions among workers, employers, markets and society at large, paying particular attention to the future of labor movements at home and abroad and how they address and are shaped by technological and other transformations.

The Firms and Industrial Policy Idea Lab engages faculty and students in interdisciplinary and collaborative discussions to gain new insights into firm behavior and what works (and doesn’t work) in industrial policy. Areas of exploration include the factors that shape technology adoption, product innovation, quality upgrading, R&D investments, patenting, and other forms of innovative behavior; how such decisions are influenced by market conditions, network relationships and supply chain architecture; and novel ways to measure such decisions and influences.

The Money and Finance Idea Lab explores the relation of money and finance in theoretical terms and in institutional configurations, including the design of financial and policy instruments employed by central banks, as well as the design of financial intermediaries and their relation to central banks and market regulators.

The Political Economy of Climate Idea Lab will launch in Fall 2024.

As multi-year projects, each Lab:

  • Hosts one or more postdoctoral research scholars;
  • Provides annual grants to Columbia faculty and graduate students on related topics;
  • Organizes conferences, seminars, workshops and other public and semi-public events; and
  • Generates scholarly publications, curricular materials and public-facing reports.

We encourage you to join an Idea Lab to shape the next generation of thinking about key issues in political economy. To learn more and get involved, please sign up for our newsletter.


Faculty Co-Directors

Ira Katznelson
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University; Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects

Suresh Naidu
Professor of International and Public Affairs and Jack Wang and Echo Ren Professor of Economics, Columbia University 

Katharina Pistor 
Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law and Director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation, Columbia Law School

Center Team

Anna Marchese
Senior Project Officer, Columbia World Projects

Kathryn Burke                                                                                                                                                          
Project Officer, Center for Political Economy at Columbia World Projects

Advisory Board

Kate Andrias
Patricia D. and R. Paul Yetter Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Constitutional Governance, Columbia Law School

Geoffrey Heal
Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School

Olatunde Johnson
Jerome B. Sherman Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

M. 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

Bruce Western
Director of the Justice Lab and Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Columbia University

Faculty Grants

The Center's Faculty Grants provide funding to generate new knowledge and new networks, facilitate the exchange of discoveries, accelerate the identification of key challenges, and open up the methods scholars use. Read more about the six Columbia faculty selected for inaugural Center grants here.

The 2024 Faculty Grants program for the Work and Labor, Firms and Industrial Policy and Money and Finance Idea Labs is now closed. Sign up for the Columbia Center for Political Economy newsletter to be notified when the next application becomes available.

Graduate Grants

The CPE Graduate Student Grants program provides Columbia graduate students with financial support to conduct research within the field of political economy, understood broadly. Each Idea Lab hosts their own grant opportunity. 

The inaugural CPE Graduate Student Grants program for the Work and Labor and the Firms and Industrial Policy Idea Labs is now closed. Grantees will be announced in March 2024. 

Read more about the 20 graduate student projects selected for inaugural Center grants.

Sign up for the Columbia Center for Political Economy newsletter to be notified when the next application becomes available. 

Political Economy Awards

The Center accepts applications from Columbia faculty, researchers, students and student groups for small awards to support the purchasing of data or computing resources, conducting new research, or organizing and hosting conferences, workshops or other convenings.

Applications submitted under this awards program must demonstrate the project’s relevance to the Center’s mission. In particular, the Center offers awards to projects that deepen multidisciplinary discussions and broaden the field of economics; think conceptually about power, equality and uncertainty; and strengthen connections between academic knowledge and policy knowledge, influencing public policy and political affairs. If your project aligns with one of the Center’s Idea Labs, you should apply via the Faculty Grant or Graduate Student Grant opportunities.

Columbia University full time faculty and research staff may request funds up to $5,000. Columbia University students and student groups may request funds up to $2,500.

Read more about the requirements, application and FAQs.



  • April 22, 2004: Antimonopoly and American Democracy. Book talk via Zoom on a new history that traces antimonopoly ideas, organizing, and policy from the American founding era to the 1970's
  • May 2-3, 2024: The Non-Market Effects of Market Power. This conference will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars seeking to understand how market power shapes outcomes beyond the traditional measures. 

Money & Finance Seminar Series:

This semester, the Center's Money and Finance Idea Lab is leading an online seminar series hosted by Katharina Pistor (Columbia Law School and co-director of Center) and Matthias Thiemann (Sciences Po, Paris). The series aims at probing deeper into the relation of money and finance theoretically and concretely in terms of the institutional configurations of markets and their governance. This semester’s seminar theme is “The Political Economy of Liquidity.” Readings will be distributed in advance and made available online. Register for the series.

Video recordings of previous seminars can be found here soon.

Join the Columbia Center for Political Economy newsletter to be alerted to events in the 2023-24 academic year.

Previous Events: 


Get Involved

If you or your organization is interested in supporting the work of the center, please email [email protected] and join our newsletter.