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Challenges to the Contemporary Global Order, a workshop held in early October 2017, brought together ten leading political scientists who specialize in international and comparative political economy to discuss the changing political and economic landscape in the contemporary era and its implications for political science and international relations. The participants—listed below—provided short analytical essays, written in an accessible style, that addressed these challenges from the perspective of their own research and their preferred analytical framework.

Tom Pepinsky, Cornell University (co-organizer)
Stefanie Walter, University of Zurich (co-organizer)
Ben Ansell, University of Oxford
Mark Copelovitch, University of Wisconsin
Catherine De Vries, University of Essex
Kathleen McNamara, Georgetown University
James Morrison, London School of Economics
Layna Mosley, University of North Carolina
Peter Rosendorff, New York University
Frank Schimmelfennig, ETH Zurich

The purpose of this site is to share the fruits of this effort. The essays, which you can find by clicking the participant names at the top of this page, are all freely available for download and sharing. Covering a wide range of substantive issues, from the domestic politics of housing inequality to identity and populism to macroeconomic policy ideas to the foundations of the liberal international order, these essays can be read in isolation as incisive commentaries on what political economists have to say (and what they need to learn) about the challenges facing the global order.

Read together, however, a series of common themes emerges. First, the essays commonly identify what we term a “new complex interdependence,” recognizing that to understand domestic and often even local politics requires a greater appreciation of the interactions between local, national, and systemic forces. That such interdependence across scales and political units exists is an old theme in international and comparative political economy, but we need to renew our focus on the specific mechanisms that take politics across national borders.

Second, the debate between interests and identities as the core drivers of politics and economics remains vigorous, but a new synthesis will take us further than we can go when we insist that the two are strict alternatives. Several essays offer ideas for how this might be done, and what might happen when we allow identity-based motivations to guide voters’ and elites’ decisions about national and international politics. At the same time, ideas and ideology remain of paramount importance—and distinct from both material factors and identity claims—in explaining the behavior of key policymakers.

And third, many of the essays identify a distinction between “shock events” in the United Kingdom and the United States (the Brexit vote and the election of President Donald Trump) and the rise of right-wing and populist parties in continental Europe. Others see continuity across these cases. The questions of how common these phenomena are, exactly how they are related, and how national differences may provide institutional checks on certain kinds of political and economic outcomes, remain unsettled.

We hope that by sharing these essays, we will begin to stimulate more conversation about how international and comparative political economy can offer insights into contemporary global challenges. We hope that these conversations will touch on those areas that these essays have missed—immigration and the refugee crisis, defense and security policy, China, and other world regions. We also hope that this conversation will lead political economists to confront the limits of current theoretical and disciplinary paradigms. And we also anticipate that this will not mark the end of our collective effort to understand these and other contemporary challenges to the global order.

The workshop was generously supported by the Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University and the Department of Political Science at the University of Zurich.