Global California: Rising to the Cosmopolitan Challenge

May 18, 2009

4:30pm - 6:00pm

Santa Monica


Abraham Lowenthal



California's economy and land mass are bigger than those of many nations. It influences the world through movies, music and television as well as its top universities and research labs. And with 27 percent of residents born abroad, it is predisposed to international trade and investment and dependent on its immigrant work force.

Yet California lacks ideas, policies and institutions commensurate with the state's high stakes and global clout, according to Abraham Lowenthal, author of "Global California: Rising to the Cosmopolitan Challenge." Many of the state's philosophies and structures date to the mid-20th century, when California was turned inward. Though it revived its international qualities, the state failed to adopt attitudes, policies and institutions to match, Lowenthal says.

Abe Lowenthal tells the audience that California must take better advantage of its international position.
In this Milken Institute Forum, Lowenthal mapped out a strategy for the state to follow to make the most of its position — a plan that one reviewer called "openly a manifesto … and a call for action." Along the way, he discussed such thorny issues as globalization, trade, infrastructure, climate change, energy, the environment and how California can maximize the benefits and mitigate the drawbacks of its complex ties to Mexico.

Lowenthal is the Robert F. Erburu Professor of Ethics, Globalization and Development at the University of Southern California, president emeritus of the Pacific Council on International Policy and a non-resident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. A recognized authority on Latin America and U.S.-Latin American relations, he was the founding director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Latin American Program, the Inter-American Dialogue and the Pacific Council. Lowenthal is the author of 12 other books, numerous journal articles and more than 150 newspaper pieces. He received a bachelor's degree, master's degree in public administration and doctorate from Harvard University.