What will the next 30 years hold?

GPS’s milestone anniversary offered an opportunity to reflect on the school’s accomplishments and look to the future of global policy

July 31, 2019 | By Dean Peter F. Cowhey | GPS News

Peter CowheyThis summer we concluded our 30th Anniversary celebration. It was a year filled with stimulating discourse, reuniting friends and colleagues with campus and taking stock in all that the students, faculty, staff and alumni of the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) have accomplished over three decades.

We were not content simply to trumpet our successes, however; we also focused on major challenges confronting a school that researches and teaches about solutions to society’s challenges and opportunities in the 21st Century.

We asked how policy frameworks that have, on the whole, proven so beneficial to the world since 1945 need revision both at the domestic and global levels. For example, essential social safety nets are still largely absent in many countries and in others they are fraying under multiple challenges about budgets, changing demography, polarized politics and shifting labor markets. 

The rules of international commerce in the Pacific are buffeted by trade disputes and rival aspirations for technological leadership. The long shadow of climate challenges requires prudential stewardship as consensus on amelioration weakens. The future roles of democratic and authoritarian governments are in flux. National security tensions are flaring. 

And yet, we have hope. The role of GPS is to think deeply about these challenges while not forgetting the many positive fundamentals of global society. It is to invent the analytic tools and frameworks to identify both problems and solution options more precisely than inflamed public rhetoric does. It is to recognize that successful governance in this century will feature a new synthesis of the public, private and non-profit sectors to create global progress. It is to equip our students, whether they specialize in international affairs or public policy, to be adroit leaders in a world where crossing boundaries among nations and sectors of society will be central to advancing both private aspirations and the public interest in the local, national and international arenas. 

Peter Cowhey with alumniAs we commit to shaping the future, the 30th Anniversary reminded us that we have strong foundations in place for our mission. Our prescient bet that the Americas and Asia – the Pacific – would be the focal point for the 21st Century gave us an early start to understanding the fundamentals of the changes confronting global society. 

Our investment in recruiting scholars who would use rigorous analysis to confront the traditional policy wisdom in many fields has yielded strong research centers and an innovative teaching program. It is why our school is a “go-to” place for policymakers critically assessing our efforts to reduce poverty in the poorest countries or addressing the stabilization of states facing security and governance crises. 

Our commitment to advancing a deeper integration of science and technology expertise with policy analysis has created a cadre of scholars who have more deeply integrated us with UC San Diego’s global leadership in science, health and engineering. As a result, we can advance policies and strategies that more realistically address how to transform the world’s energy infrastructure.  And we can provide digital technologies to yield much finer grained analysis of how investments in needed infrastructure can better balance economic growth and environmental sustainability goals.

We had much to celebrate this past year. We will have even more dramatic advances in the next 30 years. I hope you’ll join us for the journey.

Discover our 30th Anniversary photos and videos, and be sure to read a dean's perspective here.

News