Rethinking Global Governance

David M. Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachian Professor of History at Stanford University. His scholarship is notable for its integration of economic analysis with social history and political history. Kennedy has written over ten books; his first, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger (1970), won the John Gilmary Shea Prize in 1970 and the Bancroft Prize in 1971. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980) and won the Pulitzer in 2000 for his 1999 book Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Other awards include the Francis Parkman Prize, the Ambassador's Prize and the California Gold Medal for Literature, all of which he received in the year 2000. Kennedy was educated at Stanford and Yale. The author of many articles, he has also penned a textbook, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, now in its thirteenth edition. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • Transcript


David Kennedy: Well I do think collectively on the planet as a whole, we need to rethink the institutional structure that came down to us from the World War II era, which has been very effective in its own terms in promoting this general phenomenon that goes by the name globalization and human interdependence with the world around. That institutional structure I think still has a lot to recommend it; but I don’t think it’s adequate to the task of the 21st century. So I think the collective task for all the peoples and all the sovereign states of the earth is to look at that institutional structure, update it, add to it, eliminate those institutions that are no longer historically necessary; but to start thinking about institutional structures that will address environmental issues and their global and planetary contexts. We don’t have anything like that now. We have national organizations that do so in this country – the Environmental Protection Agency. But our . . . And we’ve . . . We’re groping towards international institutions to serve these kinds of functions, as in the Kyoto Accords, something that this country has repudiated. But the dawning consciousness, it seems to me, that these are issues that transcend national borders and must be dealt with in a planetary way, and therefore require institutional apparatus to do so. And I think that’s a big agenda.

Recorded on: 7/4/07