Founded in New York City in 1961 as the Fund for Education Concerning World Peace through World Law, the World Policy Institute has its origins in the post-World War II movement of moderate internationalists. Its founders –the banker Harry B. Hollins and the banker and public servant C. Douglas Dillon, inspired by Grenville Clark — sought to develop international policies to prevent future carnage and devastation. In 1963, the Institute’s name was shortened to World Law Fund. In 1972, it merged with the Institute for International Order, founded in 1948 and run by Earl D. Osborn. The combined organization became the Institute for World Order. In 1982, the World Policy Institute adopted its current name to reflect a shift from a primarily educational focus to incorporating a strong policy element, and founded World Policy Journal. From 1991-2007, the Institute was part of The New School, a New York City University. In 2007, under the leadership of Executive Director Michele Wucker and Chairman John Watts, the World Policy Institute was re-incorporated as a free-standing institution, which collaborates with diverse organizations around the world.
Earl Osborn and the Institute for International Order
The World Policy Institute’s oldest predecessor organization, the Association for Education in World Government, was founded in 1948. Its purposes included the “collection, study and analysis of ‘information and facts relating to international organizations and international law’ and the exploration and study of ‘proposed methods of achieving world government through the United Nations or otherwise.” In 1952, the organization changed its name to the Institute for International Government. In 1954, it became the Institute for International Order. In 1955, Earl D. Osborn became President of the Institute.
Grenville Clark and the World Law Fund
Also in the aftermath of World War II, individuals who would eventually form the World Law Fund in New York met to discuss ways to prevent future wars. Chief among these was Grenville Clark, a lawyer and professor who was a leading voice among the United World Federalists. Heir to a banking and railroad fortune, he inspired and endowed what became the World Law Fund. In 1958, Grenville Clark and Louis Sohn, a Harvard Professor, published World Peace through World Law, which proposed revising the United Nations Charter to shift power away from Europe and establish a world police force. "These were giants,” says Arch Gillies, who served as the Institute’s President from 1981 to 1990. “They were the non-communist left and moderate internationalists."
Harry Hollins, Douglas Dillon and the World Law Fund Bankers
Harry B. Hollins and C. Douglas Dillon were also deeply interested in promoting a moderate internationalist mindset. (Hollins later founded WorldPaper –a special print supplement printed in multiple languages on five continents– in Boston in 1978.) Dillon, chairman of the investment firm Dillon, Read and Co. from 1946-1953, was a moderate Republican who served under the Kennedy administration as Treasury Secretary and Member of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1961, Hollins established the Fund for Education Concerning World Peace through World Law (becoming the World Law Fund in 1963) under the fiscal sponsorship of Earl Osborn’s Institute for International Order. Nevertheless, the Fund operated independently and was governed by a separate management committee. The Fund was designed as “a world education program on the inadequacies… of the present international system and the necessity for world authority structures to deal with the world’s most critical problems.” In 1963, for example, it worked to promote the Grenville Clark and Louis Sohn book, World Peace through World Law, as well as publish and promote a set of readings: Legal and Political Problems of World Order, edited by Saul Mendlovitz. The Fund established programs for high schools and universities, aimed at developing educational materials for teaching world order studies, such as the Peace and World Order Studies, an internationalist curriculum guide for universities. The World Order Models Project (WOMP) was established in 1968 under the World Law Fund, directed by Mendlovitz, a Rutgers University law professor. WOMP sought to promote values that could be accepted as goals for “models for a preferred world,” based on peace, social justice, economic well-being, ecological balance and political participation.
The Institute for World Order and the World Order Models Project
In 1971, the Grants Committee set up a two-year public education project called “Americans Talk Peacekeeping”, designed to publicize UN peacekeeping potential. The Institute also prepared materials for a series of nationwide workshops coordinated by the UN Association of the USA. In 1977, Rajni Kothari, Director of the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in India, joined Mendlovitz as Co-Director of WOMP. Some of these were summarized in a project book, On the Creation of a Just World Order. This was one of the first truly global think tanks, with partners and contributors in India, China, Africa and Europe. The results of a series of conferences –the first of which was held in New Delhi, India, in 1968—were published in a collection of six books in the series Preferred Worlds for the 1990s. In 1975, WOMP sponsored the publication by participating scholars of a theoretical journal called Alternatives: A Journal for World Policy. WOMP also released a series of WOMP Occasional Papers and established three task forces on issues of global concern: Security, Disarmament and Human Rights; Science and Technology; and Global Culture.
In 1972, the World Law Fund and its subsidiary programs merged with the Institute for International Order, adopting the name Institute for World Order. Harry Hollins of the World Law Fund took over the Presidency of the Institute from Earl Osborn. Hollins was succeeded by Franklin Wallin in 1973, and then by Saul Mendlovitz in 1974. Work in the 1970s included the Public Education on Global Issues Project; a loose affiliation with the Food Action Center in Washington, DC; a public education campaign on disarmament, named Operation Turning Point: End the Arms Race, coinciding with the UN’s first Special Session on Disarmament; and the Grenville Clark Project on Disarmament. The project, directed by Robert Johansen, published and promoted a position paper entitled “Toward a Dependable Peace: A Proposal for an Appropriate Security System.” In the late 1970s, the board decided that the organization should become less theoretical and broaden its focus to public policy. Board members at the time included Hollins; Notre Dame University President, Father Theodore Hesburgh; longtime Yale Professor and peace activist William Sloane Coffin; businessman and philanthropist Ira Wallach; and Stern Fund executive director David Hunter. Robert Johansen was President of the Institute from 1978 to 1981 and author of The National Interest and the Human Interest, written during his tenure. In Spring 1981, Arch Gillies, a former long-time aide to Nelson Rockefeller, became President.
World Policy Institute
In 1982, the organization formally became the World Policy Institute, changing its name to reflect its new policy focus. In 1983, Sherle Schwenninger founded World Policy Journal, together with Jerry Sanders and Robert Johansen, as a vehicle for disseminating ideas. Jerry Sanders was the first managing editor of the journal. The Institute also published a series of World Policy Papers through the 1990s and organized an ongoing speaking program. Among its central ideas was that peace and economics are closely intertwined. In the 1980s, WPI’s Security Project summarized a unified economic-diplomatic-military strategy for progressives in post-Reagan America. From 1985 to 1987, World Policy Journal articles were translated for President Mikhail Gorbachev by the Russian Institute for US and Canada Studies. The Journal’s close contacts with Russian reformists enabled it to cover the coming of Gorbachev, glasnost and perestroika, and the unraveling of the Cold War, like no other publication. During the 1980s, the Institute’s American Priorities in a New World Era project – a group that included participants Robert Reich, Carl Sagan, Jessica Matthews, and Stan Greenberg – began studies which resulted in a series of polls and a 1990 book. A Greenberg poll carried out during the last throes of Cold War as Gorbachev was coming to power, asked the U.S. public if economic or military strength was more important. An overwhelming majority – two-thirds—said that the economy was most important. That poll profoundly informed Bill Clinton’s "It's the Economy, Stupid" campaign strategy.
A great deal of the Institute’s influence was exercised through World Policy Journal, which heralded the rise of the importance of geo-economics over geo-political military conflicts. It argued the limits of the United States’ ability to control a variety of civil wars and revolutions. WPJ was also known for its coverage of the rise of Japan, particularly writings by Walter Russell Mead. During this time, the Journal was awarded numerous recognitions for its coverage of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and of the world economy. As a result of the Journal’s influence, Jerry Sanders, Sherle Schwenninger and Walter Russell Mead were all invited to contribute to the Cuomo Commission reports on rebuilding the American economy. Sanders and Mead were key architects of the first report in 1988, and Schwenninger was the key architect of the international economic policy section of the second report in 1992.
In 1991, WPI was absorbed into The New School for Social Research, at which time WOMP and its Alternatives journal separated from the Institute. James Chace became editor of World Policy Journal in 1993 and was succeeded in 2000 by Karl Meyer. Former Cuomo aide and UN official Stephen Schlesinger became director in 1997. Signature projects under his directorship were the Eurasia Stability Index –which later spun off to become the consultancy Eurasia Group; Cuba Project; Russia Project; Rwanda Project; UN Project; the American Grand Strategy project; and weekly Thursday night lectures held at The New School. In 2001, the Congressional Research Service recognized World Policy Journal for having published nine of the 43 most influential post-Cold War articles, more than any other publication despite its scarce resources.
In 2007, the World Policy Institute and Journal split from The New School, re-incorporating as an independent 501c3 organization. WPI has strategic partnerships with think tanks and universities around the world, and in 2015 announced the launch of the World Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University, an interdisciplinary think tank in Los Angeles that applies academic research to help solve global policy challenges. A partnership between the New York-based World Policy Institute and LMU, WPI@LMU and its Fellows are developing a scholarly policy network in Los Angeles to address emerging issues in global affairs.