Which are the biggest global challenges in the world today?

“The biggest challenges in the world today involve a series of five inter-related crises. First, we have a global economic crisis defined in many countries by mass unemployment, reduced living standards, and reduced economic growth.  This crisis is partially related to financialization, deindustrialization, globalization and automation, as well as the regimes in which persons are trained or firms are governed (owned and organized).

Second, we have a global environmental crisis manifested in rising CO2 levels, reductions in species varieties, climate changes and other problems associated with global warming. 

Third, we have a global energy crisis, defined by dependency on oil which is connected to volatile prices, instability in supplying nations, and problems of democracy created within resource-dependent states.  For consumers, oil price hikes or the use of oil supply as a political weapon can destabilize economies heavily dependent on oil.  For producers of oil, the cultivation of oil can create serious environmental problems (attached to fracking) or create an economic profile of dependency as resource development may displace the economic and political power of manufacturing.

The use of oil and the associated energy, economic and environmental costs can be mitigated by developing alternative energy sources, mass transit systems and through new spatial configurations (e.g. centralizing functions and making cities “denser”).  Here, we need to focus on the technical, economic and political factors that facilitate green jobs, green industries, and coalitions linking social movements, the state and production platforms. 

The fourth most significant crisis is the crisis in democracy.  How will we gain leverage over the state and corporate actors which organize the economic system, the production system and the ecosystem?  The concentration of power in large bureaucracies has been a consistent problem in promoting both green conversions and achieving sustainable results in climate change negotiations.  We therefore have to address imbalances in the distribution of power by reconfiguring the design of social movements, by promoting accountability systems vis-à-vis various actors, and by creating new platforms for power accumulation from below (such as cooperatives) that complement changes from above (such as green industrial policies).

The fifth crisis is an intellectual one. This centers on our ability to use multiple disciplines to analyze the aforementioned crisis.  Global political economy, supplemented by related fields of historical sociology, can provide a good foundation for addressing this crisis as it engages more than one traditional discipline.”

 

What is the difference between global political economy and international relations?

“International relations as a discourse focuses on relations among states, particularly those concerned with security questions and problems of war and peace.  Global political economy as a discourse encompasses both political (state) and other economic actors (like corporations, the larger system of economic accumulation, and questions of resource development).   Some view economic development questions and problems of ecological transformation as having a strong footing in global political economy.  In more classical discourses related to militarism or radical institutionalist approaches to economics we see an overlap between issues addressed by global political economy and international relations questions.”

 

What is different from studying global political economy at Stockholm University to other universities?

“Stockholm University has created an intellectual space for looking at the full cycle of social change problems, starting with problems, extending to policies and plans, and then asking questions about where the power comes from to extend and promote those plans.   The ambition sometimes is to move beyond simply deconstructing problems to providing reconstructive solutions.  It is not sufficient to argue that things are bad and the world is defined by crises.  Instead, we also have to discuss and show theories and models that explain how to address and work towards solutions for such crises. The program in global political economy creates a space for examining various structure and agency problems, i.e. We address question such as (a) what things can and cannot be changed given existing power configurations, (b) how can new configurations of power be projected, (c) how can we restore the “political” to “political economy,” and (d) how can we explore how economic realities influence political outcomes?”

 

What is your research in this field focusing on?

“My research explores the extent to which a green conversion can be advanced, particularly through the extension of more resilient cities and new production platforms.  I have examined the political and historical factors promoting such cities, particularly the case of Portland, Oregon, and related systems of light rail mass transit in Portland, Oregon, Detroit, Michigan and various cities in the United Kingdom. I have also examined the factors retarding and promoting indigenous (local) production of mass transit technologies like light rail and subways by exploring various cases in the Canada, Japan, Latin America, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.  My research shows how relatively local anchored production is still possible despite the claims of various globalization and trade theories.  I am also studying how the evolution of the Swedish model (in political and economic terms) has led to dystopian outcomes as manifested in arms exports, technocratic housing and extreme right parties.”