World Policy Reflections from Mary Van Evera

by Mary Van Evera

On the 50th Anniversary of the World Policy Institute, I remember having a connection first with its predecessor organization, the Institute for World Order. This connection came through my mother, Dorothy H. Congdon, who was also an active member of the National League of Women Voters. I have been a member of the World Policy board since 1977, when I became involved with the Institute through Sherle Schwenninger. Sherle was the founder of World Policy Journal and served as its editor from 1983 to 1991, and as director of the Institute and its European programs from 1992 to 1996.

As a fellow Midwesterner—a Nebraskan—Sherle enjoyed educating Duluthians about world affairs. During his visits to Minnesota, he shared the podium with Walter Russell Mead of the World Affairs Council, who was very involved with the Institute at the time. Their audience was well-attended by the League of Women Voters, as the League’s purpose fit nicely into the World Policy Institute’s purpose. Being women, we cared about family planning, voting rights and women’s health. And personally—one could not go to Vassar without caring about women’s suffrage, racial justice, organized labor and the capitalist economy. World Policy Institute means much to me because it was the second, the League of Women Voters being the first, to bring these conversations, decisions and debates on national issues to the table. 

Looking back at the World Policy Journal copies, I see that its key strength is that it picks good issues—the Journal headlines every important issue being debated. Additionally, the Journal recruits a variety of quality writers to develop these important articles. For starters in celebrating WPI’s 50th Anniversary, I commend to you the winter issue 2010-2011 of World Policy Journal.  Choose between the New Urban Design, China’s Great Migration, Nigeria’s Insta-Cities and the Old vs. New in Rome.

The World Policy Journal was founded a few years after I joined the Institute, and during my time, it has continued to grow in subscribers and impact. The Institute has also continued to grow, and is now ranked among the top international think tanks. Along the way, the Institute has acquired an impressive list of fellows that have done a lot of good work to promote the Institute’s mission, and bring its work to the forefront.

For example, Bill Hartung, a former Senior Fellow wrote  “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the making of the Military Industrial Complex.” Hartung explores the escalation of military projects from 2002 through 2003, and lays out the history of Lockheed Martin and its success at ultimately generating more than $40 billion in revenue a year – about 85% of it from the federal government. This book, and Hartung’s work revealed that the increase in Americas military budget was more than the entire military budget of major powers like the United Kingdom and China. The Institute’s support of work like this, demonstrates its commitment to identifying the real issues facing the world, and working towards the solutions.

I’m known around Duluth as the World Policy Institute connection, but as I look at headlines of local papers and the Journal, I think WPI is talking about every important issue there is on the map. The Institute really hits on issues that people in my town—for instance—care about, such as employment, the economy, and the environment. For me, as a strong supporter of Northland College and its environmental advocacy, these are the things that I care about, and things I think should be on the agenda for the WPI. But we should be doing more than talking about these issues–we should be encouraging the young people to take the initiative on these critical issues. This is where I think WPI will leave its mark.




[Photo of Mary Van Evera with Arch Gillies at the World Policy Journal 20th Anniversary]

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