Current Research Projects

Research at IGLP is organized in multi-year projects spearheaded by our affiliated faculty. Together, these projects provide a focal point at Harvard Law School for new thinking in the fields of comparative law, global governance and international law.

Our current research projects include:

We are also proud of the collaborative research activities of our IGLP alumni. Click HERE for more information about their research projects.

Harvard and IGLP affiliated faculty interested in developing a new IGLP research project should send a brief e-mail outlining their project to the IGLP Administrative Director, Mr. Neal O’Connor, at

Rethinking the Legal Structure of Liquidity and the Nature of Money in the Global Economy: This project, organized by Christine Desan of our Advisory Council focuses on the lessons of heterodox and institutionalist traditions in both economic and legal science for understanding global political economy in the aftermath of the crisis. We are particularly interested in the relationships among private law, private ordering, national regulation and opportunities for multilateral governance or coordination. We are exploring the significance of disarticulation and intended inefficiencies in global systems in avoiding systemic risk – when introduced both within the transnational governance of private financial institutions and through regulation.  The project focuses on the legal structure of money, credit and financial liquidity. It considers capital dynamics as a matter engineered over time by different government, non‐governmental organizations and private actors, paying particular attention to the ways in which capital dynamics cross borders, studying the domestic and global dimensions of capital dynamics in tandem.

Project on Global Financial Regulation and Financial Inclusion: This project, supported by IGLP’s Leading Sponsor VISA International, encompasses inquiries into three related areas: liquidity in the global economy, including foundational research on the nature of global liquidity and capital as legal institutions; financial inclusion and banking services for the “unbanked” as an aspect of development policy; financial service regulation in emerging markets and alternative paths to economic development. Through a series sponsored student and faculty research projects and public policy discussions we seek to develop a transnational research network of young scholars and IGLP faculty working on research themes related to global financial regulation.  The initiative’s inaugural event was a policy workshop on March 30, 2012 which brought scholars from the IGLP network into sustained conversation with high-level government officials and industry representatives.  In August 2012, the IGLP convened a research mission and workshop in Bangkok focused on new financial services regulation and development strategies in the emerging markets of the ASEAN region.   In 2012 and 2013, the initiative sponsored a competitive research grant program for young scholars.

Expertise and Governance: This project aims to strengthen research linking efforts to understand the role of expertise in global governance among IGLP scholars with parallel work undertaken in the Science and Technology Studies field.  The focal point for collaboration has been a series of lectures, research workshops and an inter-faculty reading group organized by IGLP Director David Kennedy and Sheila Jasanoff of the Kennedy School.   Questions under discussion include: Who are experts, whom do they represent, what are the sources of their authority, and how can expertise be held accountable? What kinds of institutions employ expertise, and what are the organizational characteristics of such institutions? How does the growing global reliance on experts affect the quality, effectiveness, and accountability of public policy and governance? Through readings and/or presentations from several fields—including law, anthropology, history, sociology, and science and technology studies—the reading group considers the ways expertise is defined, constituted, challenged, defended, or defeated in contemporary societies.   The research initiative is supported by a seminar jointly taught by Jasanoff and Kennedy at HLS and KSG each spring.

The Next Left – The Challenges and Opportunities for Social Democratic Politics in a Global Economy:  This project, which we are co-sponsoring with Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer of our Honorary Council, encourages dialog among those rethinking the politics of the left after globalization in various regions of the world, with a particular emphasis on the dynamics within Europe and between Europe and Latin America.  The IGLP convened a meeting of the group in April 2012. Read more about it here.

Global Genealogy of Family Laws: The rise of colonialism, capitalism, liberalism, modernity and nationalism across much of the world was strongly inflected by the idea that legal and social life divides naturally into two opposite orders – the market and the family.  The idea was that the market was or should be governed by contract law that would ideally be uniform across the world and that would enable contracts giving effect to the will of the parties; while the family was or should be governed by family law that gave effect to the spirit of each national people and that enforced interpersonal duties.  The idea is so pervasive that it seems inevitable that commercial law will be uniform and western everywhere and that family life, gender and sexuality will be local and “different.”   It also is so structural that it helps to explain how political economy imagines itself to encompass everything crucial about global governance while chronically “forgetting” the family, gender and sexuality.  This IGLP project, led by HLS professor Janet Halley, seeks to compare the spread of this idea and its various implementations across the world, both in the formation of colonial relations and in the breakdown of the colonial system.  We believe that by understanding it genealogically and comparatively, we can better pry away the glue fixing us to it even today.

Law and the New Developmental State: Law and the New Developmental State is a collaborative faculty project led by IGLP Advisory Council Member David Trubek that seeks to examine the modern revival of the developmental state. Although state activism came under attack in the hey-day of neo-liberalism, today states in many developing countries are once again actively promoting economic growth and social development. These initiatives build on prior experiences but often take new forms as states cope with the challenges of growth under conditions of globalization. This new state activism tends to be more export oriented, more concerned with competiveness and innovation, and more aware of the need for incomes policy. These “new” developmental states prefer to support and partner with the private sector rather than supplant it.  Such changes in state policy and practice have an impact on the legal order. They may make new uses of existing legal tools, deploy different enforcement practices, and create the need for new laws and new forms of governance. This project, co-sponsored with the network on Law and the New Developmental State (LANDS) explores relations between the legal order and new state policies in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela.  As part of this initiative the IGLP will co-sponsor a seminar and research mission to Brazil in July 2013 to explore the emerging forms of new state activism in Brazil and elsewhere, examine the theoretical work in political economy that has accompanied these turns in state policy, learn about the practice behind the “Brazilian policy-making factory”, the issues these developments have for the law and for the economy, and see how the emerging law and development debate in Brazil relates to global trends in the field.

Global Poverty and Heterodox Development Pathways: Mapping, Method and Critique: this Project, which is led by Harvard Law Professor Lucie White and Sciences Po Law Professor Jeremy Perelman, is a collaborative effort among critical law and development scholars to present, map and critique alternative development pathways that are emerging in the confused phase of the post-Washington Consensus.  The initiative was launched as a Pro-Seminar in 2012 where members of the group presented short papers that tease out the methodological features of their respective approaches, as well as the distributional effects of the developmental pathways that they identify.

Click HERE to read about the Research History of the IGLP