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Stanford launches new research center on democracy, development and law
Stanford's Institute for International Studies (IIS) has established a new center to encourage scholars to work together to find better ways to help countries in transition.
The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is the institute's fifth research unit. It is a joint undertaking with the Law School and the Graduate School of Business, IIS Director David Holloway announced Sept. 3.
"It's such a huge problem -- how to help countries [in transition] reach some kind of economic and political stability," Holloway said. "There is so much that we don't know. If we are to understand better than we do today the persistence of barriers to growth, democracy and the rule of law, we simply must bring together the entire community of scholars working on these questions."
Coit D. Blacker, IIS deputy director, will lead the center. Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Larry Diamond; Graduate School of Business Professor John McMillan; IIS Senior Fellow Stephen Krasner; and Thomas Heller, professor of international legal studies, will assist Blacker as faculty coordinators. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and IIS will fund the center.
Blacker said plans to establish CDDRL developed from his personal experience during the first term of the Clinton administration, when he was special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director of Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Blacker said, foreign experts offered advice to emerging countries that often neglected to consider the broader implications of reform.
"I learned that problems that had solutions based on a single discipline didn't work," Blacker said. "People talked past each other; it was a dialogue of the deaf. If we are going to advance the discussion and get better at finding general solutions to common problems, we have to be interdisciplinary. We have to generate a new language that will be accessible to policy makers."
The center will be housed in Encina Hall. A key dimension of its work will be to identify and cultivate institutional arrangements at all levels of society to encourage greater responsibility, transparency and accountability in decision making, Blacker added.
During CDDRL's first year, workshops and seminars will draw on the diverse experience of scholars at Stanford. For example, Blacker said, the center will sponsor a workshop Nov. 15-16 looking at the status of and prospects for democracy in the former Soviet bloc. In late January, a second workshop will focus on the problem of corruption and strategies for loosening its grip on societies that are making the transition from centralized to market economies.
The center will bring together other Stanford faculty and researchers whose work deals with issues facing changing societies. CDDRL's faculty plan to develop a new undergraduate course echoing the center's focus on democracy, development and the rule of law, Blacker said. The center also will host predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers.
According to Holloway, IIS is a natural home for CDDRL because it already has extensive experience in supporting interdisciplinary research and training. Established in 1988, IIS seeks solutions to global challenges through research and training programs that bring faculty and students together with visitors from other academic, government, nonprofit and corporate institutions.
In addition to CDDRL, the institute houses the Asia/Pacific Research Center, the Center for Environmental Science and Policy, the Center for Health Policy and the Center for International Security and Cooperation.