Cornell University

April 12 2007

ILR School announces new Program on Globalization and the Workplace

The program is the first-of-its-kind on globalization and the world of work

Cornell University’s ILR School, a leader in advancing the world of work, is developing a new program aimed at answering several critical questions related to the effects of globalization on workers in both developing and developed economies. These include:

  • How can we better understand the interrelationships of economies and workers in different nations?
  • How can the forces of globalization be harnessed to provide improved earning opportunities for working people throughout the world?
  • How can we better enable low-wage workers to work their way out of poverty?

These and related issues will be addressed by the ILR School’s Program on Globalization and the Workplace. "Other universities have globalization centers, but as far as I know, no other group has specifically focused on the world of work as we’re about to do," says Gary Fields, professor, labor economics, and director of the program.

There has been increasing dialogue on the impact of the global economy on individual countries and their citizens. The new globalization program will focus on the important workplace issues surrounding economic development in emerging economies and the repercussions for workers in developed countries. In its start-up phase over the next three years, the program will support research by faculty and students, provide a forum for policy debates, develop and offer at least one new undergraduate course, and help expand study-abroad opportunities.

"This program is the latest in the continuing internationalization of the ILR School consistent with our vision and priorities, which include providing each undergraduate student with at least one international experience during his or her time at the School," says ILR School Dean Harry C. Katz.

David M. Cohen, BSILR ’73 and Abby Joseph Cohen, AB ’73, are providing start-up funding for the program motivated by their concern about economic development, world poverty, political freedoms, and how to best address those issues in the 21st century. The goal of the program is to attract additional resources for the creation of a permanent center within the ILR School that will continue to focus on the impact of the global economy on the world of work.

"The world will continue to get smaller as transportation and communications improve, and industrial development and the need for natural resources grow along with consumer demand. It is critical that the ILR School establish itself as the leading academic center studying the impact – for better or for worse – of the integration of the global economy so that we can avoid the mistakes of the past. The people who live and work in China, Asia, Africa and Latin America will see major changes in their lives as they increasingly become part of the world economy. Similarly, we in the United States feel the impact of manufacturing and service jobs moving offshore on our own economy. No institution is better positioned to bring the tools of social science to this endeavor than the ILR School," says David Cohen.

Abby Cohen adds: "The United States has been the primary engine of global economic growth for several decades, and our workers have generally benefited from ongoing gains in income and standard of living. The rapid economic development now occurring elsewhere raises many questions. These involve not only the challenges to our own workforce and employers, but also the desirability of creating safe workplaces and opportunities to lift people in other regions out of poverty and into productive work lives."

The Cohens have a long history of involvement with Cornell. Abby is a presidential councilor and trustee emerita of the university, as well as a member of the board of overseers of the Weill Cornell Medical College. David, a member of the dean’s advisory council of the ILR School, is serving his second term as a member of the University Council and is chair emeritus of Cornell Hillel. In recognition of their support, the Cohens have been honored as Foremost Benefactors of Cornell University. The Cohens’ two daughters also are Cornellians.

The Cornell Program on Globalization and the Workplace will be administered by the international programs committee of the ILR School and will have a substantial presence both in New York City and Ithaca. The ILR School is the world’s leading academic institution for teaching, research and outreach focused on advancing the world of work.

Contact: Gary Fields. ILR School professor of labor economics, 607.255.4561,