The fifth Jepson Colloquium, held Jan. 28-29 at the University of Richmond, brought together experts from a wide variety of fields to examine the philosophical, moral, economic, environmental, and political dimensions of justice beyond national borders.

The two-day conference provided an opportunity for scholars from Harvard, Yale, St. John’s University, the University of Auckland in New Zealand, King’s College London, and Oxford, among others, to present new research and exchange ideas on topics such as climate change, health care, education, poverty, and accountability and transparency in organizations.  

The conference was co-convened by leadership studies professors Douglas A. Hicks and Thad Williamson and organized into sessions on foundational questions of global justice, climate change, health and global responsibilities, and solidarity and justice.

“We were privileged to welcome some of the world’s top theorists of global justice,” Hicks said. “We invited them to reflect on the leadership that would be required to help realize—or at least work toward—a more equitable international order.”

The interdisciplinary nature of the conference gave participants an opportunity to consider the issues from multiple perspectives.

“Some of the biggest challenges we face today are global in scope and many of the issues require someone to take the first courageous steps,” said Gillian Brock, a philosophy professor from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “A conference like this that talks about assisting leaders to take that step is key. I have thought a lot about many of these issues, but it’s great to have the different disciplinary perspectives.”

The colloquium was also a way to lay out some of the key questions, Hicks said.

“The economy is already global. But how do we conceptualize and then put into practice a transnational, or even a global, ethic? How do we cobble together a set of institutions—international financial institutions, nongovernmental organizations, national governments, and socially responsible corporations—that can approximate justice in a dynamic global order?”

A commitment to equality and leaders who know how to share power and empower others to lead in certain circumstances are essential pieces, said David A. Crocker, a senior research scholar at the University of Maryland’s Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy and the School of Public Policy.

On the issue of climate change, Simon Carney, a political theorist from Magdalen College, Oxford University, noted that there is a need for some adaptation of current policies. “The primary question is how do we distribute the burden of mitigating climate change,” Carney said.

The research will be published in a book co-edited by Hicks and Williamson that will become part of the Jepson Studies in Leadership series.

“We hope to produce a book that not only provides an overview of the idea of “global justice” but also spells out the variety of leadership challenges involved in shaping a more equitable, humane, and just future in the 21st century,” said Williamson.

“How can we nurture global-minded citizens? How can presidents and prime ministers recognize the just claims of other nations and peoples without alienating their own constituents? How should global and transnational institutions dealing with trade, aid, and the environment be structured so as to facilitate accountability and more just outcomes?”

Each year the Jepson Colloquium brings together a diverse and well-respected group of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines to explore a topic. Past topics have included presidential leadership, Abraham Lincoln, leadership and discovery, and the common good.



Conference participants and videos:

Conversations on Leadership: Attendees reflect on themes of global justice

Gillian Brock
, University of Auckland in New Zealand
"Global Justice: Some Key Themes"  Video
Simon Caney, Magdalen College, Oxford University
"Global Justice, Climate Change, and Human Rights"  Video
David A. Crocker, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy and the School of Public  Policy, University of Maryland
"Democratic Leadership, Citizenship, and Social Justice"  Video
Daniel K. Finn, St. John’s University
"Power, Leadership, and the Struggle Against Government Corruption"  Video
Waheed Hussain, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
"Filling the Gap: Political Consumerism in a World of Weak States"  Video
Rebecca Todd Peters, Elon University
"Examining the Value of Solidarity as a Moral Foundation for Poverty Alleviation"  Video
Mathias Risse, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
"Justice, Accountability, and the WTO"  Video
Jennifer Prah Ruger, Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Yale University
"Global Health Justice"  Video
Steve Vanderheiden, University of Colorado at Boulder
"Leadership, Moral Authority, and Global Climate Change"  Video

Closing Remarks