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.
“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.”
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.
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.
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University; Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects
Professor of International and Public Affairs and Jack Wang and Echo Ren Professor of Economics, Columbia University
Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law and Director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation, Columbia Law School
Senior Project Officer, Columbia World Projects
Project Officer, Center for Political Economy at Columbia World Projects
Patricia D. and R. Paul Yetter Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Constitutional Governance, Columbia Law School
Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School
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
Professor of History, Barnard College
Joseph E. Stiglitz
University Professor, Columbia University
Director of the Justice Lab and Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Columbia University
The Columbia Center for Political Economy is accepting applications for $10,000 to $60,000 in grant funding from eligible Columbia University faculty until Monday, March 18 at 5 p.m. ET.
The Centers 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.
This year, Faculty Grants will be embedded within one of the Center's three idea labs: Firms and Industrial Policy, Work and Labor, and Money and Finance.
Find the requirements, application, and FAQs here.
The Center's 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 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 February 2024. 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.
- 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.
- November 14, 2023: Big Ideas Book Series featuring Amy Finkelstein discussing We’ve Got You Covered: Rebooting American Health Care
- November 13, 2023: Money & Finance Seminar on Monetary Sovereignty and the Elasticity of Liquidity with Viral V. Acharya and Charlotte Rommerskirchen
- November 11, 2023: New Thinking in Industrial, Innovation & Technology Policy: Perspectives from Developed & Developing Countries Conference
- October 23, 2023: Policy Knowledge Workshop with Naomi Oreskes
- October 23, 2023: Money & Finance Seminar on Financial Innovation and Liquidity Management with Richard H. Clarida and Samuel Knafo
- October 12, 2023: Policy Knowledge Workshop with Joy Rohde
- September 19, 2023: Policy Knowledge Workshop with Arthur Lupia and Kenneth Prewitt
- September 18, 2023: Money & Finance Seminar on Liquidity Management in the Private Sector with Charles Calomiris and Noémie Pinardon-Touati
- September 14, 2023: Big Ideas Book Series featuring Nelson Lichtenstein discussing A Fabulous Failure: The Clinton Presidency and the Transformation of American Capitalism
- May 18, 2023: Big Ideas Book Series featuring Simon Johnson discussing Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology & Prosperity
- May 5, 2023: State, Local, and Executive Branch Strategies to Build Worker Power Conference
- May 4, 2023: Big Ideas Book Series featuring Bradford DeLong discussing Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century
- April 18, 2023: Policy Knowledge Workshop with Alondra Nelson
- April 17, 2023: Expertise from the Field: Strengthening knowledge and community engagement
- April 13-14, 2023: The Non-Market Effects of Market Power Conference
- April 6, 2023: Big Ideas Book Series featuring Pranab Bardhan discussing A World of Insecurity: Democratic Disenchantment in Rich and Poor Countries
- March 30-31, 2023: Digital Global Futures Policy Forum
- March 21, 2023:Policy Knowledge Workshop with Alice O’Connor
- March 9, 2023: Big Ideas Book Series featuring Claudia Goldin discussing Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey toward Equity
- March 3, 2023: Constitutional Political Economy Conference
- February 28, 2023: Policy Knowledge Workshop with Julia Ott
- February 7, 2023: Policy Knowledge Workshop with K. Sabeel Rahman
- January 19, 2023: Big Ideas Book Series featuring Leah Boustan discussing Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success,
- October 24, 2022: The Legacy of Frances Perkins, Pioneer for Social Justice Conference
- October 21, 2022: Connecting the Dots: Globalization, Intermediation, and Efficiency Conference
- September 30 - October 1, 2022: The Future of the Labor Movement Conference
- September 21, 2022: Legal History Workshop with Gary Gerstle