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Director's Message

Director's Message

August 2019

Greetings from the Center on Global Transformation (CGT) at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS). I am pleased to share with you highlights from last year’s activities and plans for 2019-20.

Our Pacific Leadership Fellows (PLF) program remains a cornerstone of the center’s activities. Now in our 13th year of operation, we are proud to have welcomed 96 distinguished leaders from 23 countries. During their residences, fellows share insights with our community, thereby elevating the discourse on campus regarding global business, economics and politics. 

This year, GPS celebrated its 30th anniversary. We purposefully invited fellows to support the themes of the year-long celebration. Among the six new fellows we welcomed, Arindam Bhattacharya delivered a public lecture on the future of globalization and led a panel discussion during the anniversary weekend on policy uncertainty and global business. Other new fellows hailed from Brazil, China and Mexico. CGT also welcomed back three returning fellows – James Fallows, Robert Hormats and Enrico Letta – who headlined events during the lively and successful anniversary weekend. You can watch the videos here.

Another key CGT initiative is granting research awards, which invest in the frontiers of scholarship at GPS and across campus. Designed as seed funding, these awards support faculty and graduate students in economics, international relations, environmental and climate science, global management and public policy. They position our scholars to win major grants from extramural sources for long-term innovative projects.

This past year, the center awarded six grants, the majority of which focused on developing new methods for using satellite imagery to improve the design of public policy. Our scholars mapped the seasonality of crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa to gauge the productivity of low-income farmers, helped the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency forecast the economic impacts of hurricanes and other extreme weather events, collaborated with the World Bank to evaluate the economic consequences of India’s massive two-decade-long project to upgrade its roads and highways and assisted partners in South Asia in evaluating how air pollution affects the productivity of small and medium enterprises.

Each of these projects is part of the Big Pixel Initiative, which combines social science, data science and environmental science to achieve breakthroughs in using big data to promote economic development, environmental management and adaptation to a changing climate. Big Pixel has led the way in connecting GPS with the new Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute on campus. CGT also supported the launch of the new Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at the school, whose mission is to inform government and business leaders about strategies for managing international commercial diplomacy in a dynamic world.

On a personal, I write to announce that in 2020 I will be stepping down from the CGT directorship after 13 exciting and rewarding years. During this time, CGT – in addition to bringing nearly 100 Pacific Leadership Fellows to campus – has helped GPS launch the Policy Design and Evaluation Lab, the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology, the Big Pixel Initiative, and now the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy, as well as strengthen our research partnerships with scholars from nearly a dozen departments across the university. All of this has been made possible by the continued generosity and engagement of our founding supporters, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, to whom I expressed my deepest thanks and admiration.

CGT will continue to provide excellent programming during the next academic year under the leadership of Joshua Graff Zivin, who will serve as the director and John Ahlquist, who will lead the PLF program. I look forward to watching the changes they will bring to the center.

Thank you for your involvement in CGT and we hope to see you at our many public events this coming year.