An hour into the first staff meeting of Yale’s brand-new Center for the Study of Globalization, Director Strobe Talbott’s assistant broke into the meeting to announce that there was something on the news she thought they should see. It was the morning of Sept. 11.
The events of that day have caused the nascent center to accelerate some of its work and examine some aspects of globalization in a new context. But rather than fundamentally altering the center’s plans or goals, the terrorist attacks confirmed the belief that an understanding of the current world requires an informed understanding of globalization.
“The attack on New York and Washington can be interpreted, among other things, as an attack on globalization itself –and on the U.S. as the nation which, more than any other, has both driven that process and benefited from it,” Talbott said in an e-mail.
Before coming to Yale, Talbott served as the deputy secretary of state under the Clinton administration.
The center was forced in its earliest days to act quickly as a resource for the campus and country.
“[Sept. 11] put the center into fast-forward,” said Deborah Davis, professor of sociology and the center’s director of academic programs.
One part of the center’s response to Sept. 11 is the essay collection “The Age of Terror: America and the World After September 11,” edited by the center, which will be published jointly later this year with Basic Books. Six Yale faculty members — Abbas Amanat, Paul Bracken, John Gaddis, Charles Hill, Paul Kennedy and Harold Koh — contributed essays.
The unforeseen production of the center’s first publication required a speedy decision on a logo. Talbott said the center decided on an image of the cupola of the Betts House — the building, formerly named Davies Mansion, which will become the center’s home next year.
The terrorist attacks also influenced the topics of the center’s first discussion groups. Yale faculty members hosted workshops on Islamic extremism, the legal implications of responses to the attacks, and the effect on southeast Asia of America’s campaign in Afghanistan, Talbott said.
In the wake of Sept. 11 the center has also taken part in the Yale community’s reflections and discussions.
“Part of our challenge,” Talbott said, “and I’ve talked about it with President Levin — is to do everything we can to participate in the University’s overall response to Sept. 11.”
Both Talbott and Davis emphasized that the many issues raised by the attacks have been integral subjects of the center’s study of the phenomenon of globalization.
“Terrorism has been on our agenda for a long time,” Davis said, but, according to Talbott, the recent attacks altered terrorism’s relative importance within that agenda.
“Globalization isn’t something to advocate or oppose — it’s something to understand, in all of its dimensions. It includes transnational threats like, of course, terrorism,” Talbott said. “So in that sense, Sept. 11 focused everyone’s attention on an aspect of the subject that we all knew was there. But the magnitude of the catastrophe has required us at the Center — to devote far more of our energy to this one aspect of globalization than we otherwise would have.”