The Center is presently focused on four research programs, each involving a group of core faculty from across the campus. The number of programs is expected to expand over time, reflecting the research interests of engaged faculty, and the “problems” that are posed to us by communities and non-profits:
Social Norms + Global Development
The Center is the only academic center in the world focused on a “social norms” approach to community development. The Center facilitates collaborative research on the theory and practice of organized community adoption of beneficial social norms, in the rural village as well as the urban center. Development agencies and the social sciences lack well theorized and practical methodologies for identifying social norms and measuring norms change, and the Center has recently entered into a project cooperation agreement with UNICEF to develop and test such methodologies.
The Center for Urban Ecologies
is a collaboration among the Center, the Center for Urban Ecologies (directed by renowned UCSD architect, Teddy Cruz) and the UCSD Urban Studies and Planning Program, to facilitate research on the theory and practice of sustainable urban development in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. UCSD sits just twenty miles north of the most trafficked international border in the world, a vibrant but largely untapped “global” research laboratory at the very threshold of north and south, rife with some of the most poignant conflicts in globalization and urban development. This project also involves engaging innovative examples of progressive urban transformation in various Latin America cities, which provide an important critical alternative to failed public policies, and unsustainable models of metropolitan growth in many US cities, including San Diego.
Global Ethics + Global Cooperation
Provides a forum for critical reflection on big ideas about global responsibility and coordinated global strategies for meliorating poverty, disease and myriad forms of human deprivation and misery. The Center is committed to critically rethinking current academic narratives on these questions, which are frequently articulated in abstract modalities of “ideal theory” that float too high above the ground. The Center deploys practical knowledge to steward new directions in global justice thinking, to generate non-ideal counter-narratives that more critically comprehend the contingencies of space in time: the multiplicity of human experience, the specificity of context, and the urgency of conflict and human deprivation.
Social Science Research in Action
A central aim of the Center is to reactivate a commitment to real-world problem solving in the social sciences, which have become increasingly insular and inert in recent decades. The CGJ seeks to stimulate critical self-reflection on where the social sciences are headed, how to preserve methodological diversity within the disciplines, and how to encourage collaborative problem-solving at the “interdiscipline” in light of the many professional and institutional incentives that militate against it.