Past Projects

Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy

The project considers climate change and ecological balance from the perspective of democracy and human rights, and more broadly, human security. One part of this consideration involves concern about the tendency of governments under pressures to move toward more authoritarian models of governance. Another part involves exploring whether an accelerated program of development of alternate energy might reduce, or even eliminate, these pressures. This kind of project depends on a combination of knowledge about the underlying material circumstances and informed, enlightened assessment, as well as wide public discussion of the spectrum of anticipated policy responses, given the unevenness of national and regional circumstances.

The project was formally launched on March 8, 2010 and its first substantive event was a workshop with the title “Geopolitics and Global Climate Change,” held at UCSB, June 24-25, 2010, in collaboration with the United Nations University and the Orfalea Center. It is administered under the auspices of the Orfalea Center, and its initial funding has been secured from a private donor.


Religion & Global Civil Society

A five-year project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation consisting of a series of workshops on religion in civil society. These workshops involved both academic experts and leaders of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide humanitarian aid and services in Latin America, in East, South, and Southeast Asia, in Africa, and in the Middle East. These free-wheeling and interactive workshops were held from 2008 to 2013 in Buenos Aires, Delhi, Cairo, Shanghai, Moscow, and Santa Barbara. They identified the role of religion in the recent socio-political changes in each of these regions, and the way that religion has been both a help and a hindrance in the operations of international humanitarian organizations.


Global Futures 2030 Project

The 2030 Project on Global Prospects was jointly sponsored by the Orfalea Center and the United Nations University, Tokyo. The four-year project, chaired by Orfalea Center Fellow Richard Falk, considered future challenges given current trends, and tried to reflect on alternative scenarios projected to the year 2030. The project hopes to produce a publishable series of multi-disciplinary interpretations from different cultural perspectives, policy priorities, and empirical assessments.

This collaborative project enlisted outstanding scholars and thinkers who are representative of the world’s civilizations, including those of indigenous peoples, to offer diverse interpretations of what it is reasonable to expect and to hope for by 2030. The year 2030 was selected to strike a balance between being too preoccupied with immediate realities and looking so far into the future as to become detached from present realities.

A two-day meeting in New Delhi in 2009 focused on global issues that would be confronting the world in the next decades and for which transnational solutions would be sought. Research was presented by a dozen leading Indian intellectuals exploring future concerns over such issues as global climate change, the eroding confidence in the nation state, the rise of religious nationalism and transnationalism, and the capacity of international organizations such as the UN to deal with these and other new crises. The meetings were held in tandem with a conference co-sponsored by the Orfalea Center on "Social Development and the Human Civilization in the 21st Century." A follow up workshop in Delhi was held in September 2010. The contributions to the “2030 Project” are being edited into a book manuscript for publishers in India and the US.