Courtesy of Cornell Roosevelt Institute

Members of the Cornell Roosevelt Institute in Fall 2019.

November 26, 2019

Cornell Roosevelt Institute Joins UK Student Think Tanks To Tackle Global Policy Issues

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Hundreds of students interested in public policy will now have the opportunity to share perspectives and pitch viable solutions to important global issues such as racial discrimination, mental health and climate change — all thanks to a partnership between The Cornell Roosevelt and three other colleges across the U.S. and U.K., who teamed up to create the first-ever Global Student Policy Alliance.

The Wilberforce Society, a student-run non-partisan think tank at the University of Cambridge first came up with the idea of a global student policy alliance, and reached out to well-known college think tanks around the world.

“The motivation for the Global Student Policy Alliance was, quite simply, that multiple heads are better than one,” Jemima Baar, Executive Chair at The Wilberforce Society, told The Sun in email.

The Roosevelt Institute from Cornell University, along with the Paul Douglas Institute from the University of Chicago and the Buchanan Institute from the University of Edinburgh eventually came aboard. Since last year, the four student-led think tanks have been working on establishing this network, Ashni Verma ’21, Cornell Roosevelt Institute’s Director of Advocacy, told The Sun.

Zarek Drozda, co-founder and advisor of the Paul Douglas Institute, believes the collaboration “reflects a new necessity as much it does an opportunity.”

“Our generation in particular will need to work across borders more than within, and build institutions that have greater capacity to solve inherently interconnected issues than we have currently,” Drozda wrote in an email to the Sun. “This collective is a first step in building that capacity and in training students for that reality.”

Verma agreed and expressed that Cornell Roosevelt Institute joined the alliance to collaborate and share ideas as well as resources, to help fund research and help other schools globally in the same mission.

As a part of the GSPA, the member organizations will publish joint policy papers on pressing issues like climate change and mental health that “are global in nature and could benefit from comparative analysis,” as stated on the alliance’s Facebook page. 

According to Verma, Roosevelt Institute and Cambridge’s Wilberforce Society co-wrote a paper scrutizing the root cases of racial discrimination in hiring practices. By analyzing societal challenges minorities face, such as poverty and a lack of quality education and affordable housing, the paper seeks to provide policy recommendations for companies as well as the British and American governments.

The research was first split into two parts — while Roosevelt Institute tackled the US side, the Wilberforce Society conducts UK-specific research. Then, the two sides came together to directly compare findings and propose joint recommendations. Verma said they hope to publish the paper on their website in the next month.

“Oftentimes, living in the US can give you a very American-centric view of issues. For example, as an ILR student, I know a lot about hiring processes in the US, but I don’t think I know a lot about the UK side of things,” Verma said.

Other joint research projects include reforming mental health policies in universities, advancing sustainable recycling practices and improving violent crime oversight in Chicago.

As reported by founding organizations, one of the alliance’s top priorities is to expand the network beyond the US and UK and bring in new members.

“We want this alliance to be truly global rather than simply transatlantic. In its ideal form, GSPA will bring together students from multiple countries to work on shared problems, generating better solutions than we couldn’t alone and creating lasting relationships afterwards,” Drozda said.

“We have already had substantial interest from other student think tanks. A priority for us is also expanding geographical reach of the GSPA, so we are looking towards building links with student think tanks in Asia, Oceania, Africa, South America and continental Europe,” Baar said.