The Politics of Inequality

Fall 2015 Series: The Politics of Inequality

“We don’t understand how corporations work. We know that the issue of corporate governance is absolutely essential to understanding how modern market economics behave. The CEOs have been managing the corporations to their own benefit.”

― Joseph Stiglitz

“Social networks have had the obvious effect of helping people organize progressive causes. There is a responsibility to engage, not in everything, but in a deeper way in whatever it is you choose to be a part of.”

― Teju Cole, Interview with the Liu Institute for Global Issues

The Politics of Inequality (Fall 2015)

Sometimes called a new Gilded Age, the expansion of inequality over the last three decades has resulted in greater concentration of wealth among the “one percent”, who take home 20 percent of income in the U.S. and 15% in Canada. The inaugural Lind Initiative, hosted by the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC, examined the far reaching effects of inequality on class, race, gender, and the environment.

The 2015 Lind Initiative series welcomed prominent scholars, writers, and journalists to lead a campus-wide dialogue on inequality. The dialogue was led by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who joined UBC to teach and lecture. Professor Stiglitz is among the world’s foremost thinkers on the causes of inequality, and a champion for reforms to curb the excesses created by and for the top 1% of the population, which takes in 25% of income in the U.S. As a Columbia University professor and former chief economist at the World Bank, Stiglitz has written and spoken extensively about inequality. During his UBC visits, he participated in classes and events with various UBC groups, including the Liu Institute, the Department of Political Science, the Vancouver School of Economics, the Sauder School of Business and the Peter A. Allard School of Law. His keynote address, “The Great Divide,” was well received by the UBC community and the public.

In addition to Professor Stiglitz, the Lind Initiative invited prominent American scholars, writers, and intellectuals to UBC to discuss dimensions of inequality such as race, gender, environment, and development. These included: Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, journalist Jill Abramson, author Teju Cole, and Green Party of Canada Leader and MP Elizabeth May.

Together with our speakers, we addressed questions such as:

  • Is inequality a result of market or political forces?
  • What are the barriers to equal opportunity for women?
  • Are there moral obligations to countries being forced out of existence by climate change?
  • Why do global determinants of progress come alongside increases of extreme poverty in the developing world?

The lectures can be viewed by clicking on the title of their talks:

Jeffrey Sachs: Inequality and the Sustainable Development Goals

Jill Abramson: The Gap: Five Reasons Why Gender Inequality Persists

Elizabeth May: Climate Change & Climate Justice

Joseph Stiglitz: The Great Divide: The Causes & Consequences of Inequality 

Image Credits:
Jill Abramson (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
Elizabeth May(REUTERS)
Joseph Stiglitz (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Jeffrey Sachs(REUTERS)
Teju Cole (Flickr/Internaz)
Andrew Sullivan (Flickr/Trey Ratcliff)

Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz

Nobel Laureate and Columbia University economist

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz is one of the world’s foremost thinkers on the causes of inequality and champions of global reform to curb its excesses. He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and author of several books including, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them (2015).

Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs

Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 80 countries.
Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson

Former Executive Editor, New York Times

Jill Abramson is an author and journalist who spent the last 17 years in the most senior editorial positions at The New York Times, where she was the first woman to serve as Washington Bureau Chief, Managing and Executive Editor. Before the Times, she was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief and an investigative reporter covering money and politics at The Wall Street Journal.

Teju Cole

Teju Cole


Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College and photography critic of the New York Times Magazine. He is the author of two books, a novella, Every Day is for the Thief, shortlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award, and a novel, Open City, which also featured on numerous book of the year lists.
Anna Maria Tremonti

Anna Maria Tremonti

Journalist, Host of CBC Radio One's The Current

Anna Maria Tremonti is host of CBC’s The Current. She has won two Gemini awards, and a life Achievement Award from Women in Film and Television Toronto. With Tremonti at the helm, The Current in 2012 also won the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Excellence in Journalism Award (Large Media Category), and was a finalist for that top honour in 2013.
Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May

MP Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Elizabeth May is the Leader of the Green Party of Canada and its first elected Member of Parliament, representing Saanich-Gulf Islands in southern Vancouver Island. Elizabeth is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer, who has a long record as a dedicated advocate — for social justice, for the environment, for human rights, and for pragmatic economic solutions.


The Politics of Inequality: A Seminar With Joseph Stiglitz
Created to inspire students, the Lind Initiative included an advanced seminar to study with Professor Joseph Stiglitz and other experts on inequality. Together with Professor Stiglitz, the seminar surveys key concepts in the economics of inequality, as well as the myriad of ways inequality manifests as issues of race, gender, environment, development, and security.

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OpenCanada – The Politics of Inequality Series

The inaugural 2015 Lind Initiative in U.S. Studies, hosted by the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, examined the impacts of inequality in in its myriad forms: income, wealth, gender, race, marriage, globalization, and the environment. The Lind Initiative included a speaker series, featuring economists Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs, journalist Jill Abramson, author Teju Cole, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, as well as an upper-level university seminar led by Dr. Stiglitz.

In partnership with the Lind Initiative and to align with its 2015 theme, focused its attention to matters of inequality with articles, essays, analyses and interviews with key experts, writers and scholars who explore the issue in depth. Through contributions from economist Dambisa Moyo, Aboriginal journalist Angela Sterritt, Harvard visiting professor Miles Corak, and Nick Malkoutzis of Athens’ Kathimerini English, among others, readers gained a better understanding of a crisis at the forefront of today’s politics in Canada and around the world.

The Politics of Inequality series ran as a partnership between OpenCanada and the Lind Initiative at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in 2015.

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