We work with scholars around the world to bring interdisciplinary topics to Occidental’s campus. Faculty are encouraged to pursue academic partnerships that contribute to alternatives to the economic status quo.

City & Community Partnerships

The Young Initiative seeks to actively engage with the dynamics of the Global Political Economy that shape our community. Our definition of “community” begins with Occidental College’s students, faculty, and staff and extends to our neighbors in Eagle Rock and Highland Park, and the greater Los Angeles area and beyond.  We are dedicated to forming collaborative, respectful, people-centered, and self-reflective research partnerships with community groups, non-governmental organizations, government bodies, and regional and international organizations. Please click here for our Research Partnership Principles.

Partnering with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, the Young Initiative has encouraged and supported Occidental students and faculty to design, report, and recommend action plans for different L.A. government offices in semester-long Task Forces inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Young is challenging our sense of community -- we seek to defy the physical distance that separates our community members this semester. With two new initiatives, the Young Student Team will work to bring Young closer to Oxy students from all majors and disciplines in pursuit of the Young Leadership Team’s mission of envisioning a new economic status quo.

If you wish to share your vision for possible community partnership projects or give feedback on current initiatives, please contact younginitiative@oxy.edu. We appreciate your input.

Academic Work & Partnerships

The Young Initiative is dedicated to engaging students and faculty with topics related to Global Political Economy through workshops and the annual United Nations Week. We work with scholars around the world to bring interdisciplinary topics to Occidental’s campus. Faculty are encouraged to pursue academic partnerships that contribute to alternatives to the economic status quo. Our U.N. Week is led by dedicated students who bring topics of sustainable development to Oxy’s campus.

Campus Workshops

We aim to link the Young Initiative’s theoretical and practical work to global academic and policy conversations. In the 2019-2020 year, we hosted the Cross-Cutting Approaches to Human Rights workshop. This brought together 24 leading scholars and practitioners from around the world to focus on how to best re-conceptualize human rights so they can better inform struggles against rising global/local nationalisms. Conversations had a particular focus on recognizing how violations of economic rights are an essential dimension for understanding the structural exclusions that underlie our current global tumult.

The “Cross-Cutting Global Conversations on Human Rights: Interdisciplinarity, Intersectionality, and Indivisibility” workshop featured leading human rights scholars and practitioners from a remarkably broad range of disciplines, geographic positions, and points of view. This diversity brought new insights to controversial issues in human rights scholarship and will pave the way for upcoming publications from workshop participants.

This workshop is currently being developed into a book collection on open human rights. We are excited to tie our engaging workshop discussions into a collection for human rights scholars around the world.


Following the “Cross-cutting Global Conversations on Human Rights" conference, scholars discuss the intersections of the sub-state and global levels and question how grassroots activism and local institutions can counteract global xenophobia through the language of international rights norms.

United Nations Week

With the William and Elizabeth Kahane United Nations Program, the Young Initiative supports the annual United Nations Week at Occidental College. We are passionate in maintaining students involvement and engagement in sustainable development. Our students choose topics that link Global Political Economy, Social Justice, and Sustainable Development.

UN Week 2020: Climate Change & Economic/Environmental Justice

Keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Were Omamo, Representative and Country Director for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Ethiopia, provided perspective and insights about the UN's work on Climate Change and Environmental Justice.

UN Week 2019: Gender, Sexuality and Collective Action

The keynote speaker, Ambassador Melanne Verveer spoke to students about gender in the Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Week 2018: The Power of Place

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new partnership with Oxy to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Week 2017: Through Refugees Eyes

Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International gave a talk on “The Global Refugee and Migration Crisis Under Trump: Where is the US? Where is Europe? What Can We Do About It?”

UN Week 2016: The UN and the US after Obama

Historian and foreign policy expert, Stephen Schlesinger reflected back on the history of the UN and predicted its future trajectory. Honorary Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Minister of Canada gave a talk titled: "Resetting the Narrative: Peace, Security, and the UN's Responsibility to Protect."

Contact the John Parke Young Initiative on the Global Political Economy
Johnson Hall

The McKinnon Center for Global Affairs