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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Cosmopolitan Governance and the Challenge of Human-Directed Power in an Age of Clashing Globalisations

Dr R. James Ferguson.

In the current period of incomplete and turbulent globalisation, the ongoing clash of norms and values has generated instability in terms of poor social and environmental sustainability, especially in developing countries. This clash of different visions of global order has led to new theories exploring both global and regional governance. Concerned with effectiveness and accountability, overlapping patterns of subsidiarity and authority, this type of governance has begun to edge towards a truly multilateral diplomacy engaging government organisations, non-government groups, and international civil society, e.g. in the World Bank's Global Environment Facility (GEF). However, current models of governance remain directed by an essentially institutionalist framework concerned with organisational architectures and the construction of rational management practises. While worthwhile, these approaches need to address a new vision of cosmopolitanism that can deal with the emerging transnational realities of the 21st century, including an emphasis on social relations and human capital. In this human-directed use of economic and institutional power, insights from the humanities (embedded in diverse traditions) provide a strong corrective to the reductive mechanism implied in current, narrowly political or economic models of governance. These insights are also needed to reduce the great asymmetries of power that generate victims, backlash, violent resistance, and in turn invoke the rise of new forms of state-based authoritarianism.


Dr R. James Ferguson  (Australia)
Assistant Director
Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies
Bond University

Dr. R. James Ferguson is the Assistant Director of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies, and Assistant Professor of International Relations, Bond University, Australia. He is engaged in research, publishing and teaching in the areas of International Relations Theory; Regionalisation and Regionalism; Asian, Eurasian, European and Australasian foreign policy; Governance studies; Comprehensive Security; the history of asylum.

  • Clash of Globalisations
  • Governance Theory
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Multilateral Diplomacy
  • Institutionalism
  • Transnationalism
  • International Civil Society
  • Power Asymmetry
  • Authoritarianism

(Virtual Presentation, English)