Cohen leads Google.org course on global poverty and development

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Josh Cohen, Program on Global Justice director, talks with Google employees about creative solutions to global poverty.
Photo credit: 
Rod Searcey

In September Google.org launched the first of three courses on its main areas of philanthropic activity--Global Development, Global Health, and Climate Change. Joshua Cohen, director of the Program on Global Justice (PGJ) at FSI Stanford and professor of political science, philosophy, and law, is moderating the 10-week course, which focuses on understanding poverty and development at the global, national, local, and personal levels.

"Google has an extraordinary collection of creative employees," says Cohen. "This course on global poverty aims to enlist their energetic creativity in addressing one of our most commanding moral challenges."

The course on global poverty and development meets once a week at a Google headquarters. Each two-hour session features guest speakers on development-related issues such as education and health, equitable financial markets, globalization, and population mobility. On October 3, Rosamond L. Naylor, director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE) at FSI Stanford, co-taught a session on productive agriculture for the 21st century with Frank Rijsberman, Google.org director of water and climate adaptation issues.

Cohen opens each session, synthesizing points from previous weeks, and then moderates the hour-long discussion between guest speakers and Google employees that follows the speaker presentations. The 200-person capacity of the room is superseded by participation from employees at more than 20 remote locations. On October 3, Google.org Executive Director Larry Brilliant joined the discussion as well.

In a related collaboration, Cohen may also be leading a small-group seminar, "Global Poverty 2.0," at Stanford for Google employees as well as graduate students and colleagues. Global Poverty 2.0 is expected to meet on Friday afternoons and draw on readings from history, sociology, political science, economics, and philosophy. Students would be required to make one presentation and also to submit a 3,000-word project proposal for dealing with some aspect of the large problem of global poverty.

Google.org is the philanthropic arm of Google and the umbrella for its commitment to devote employee time and one percent of Google's profits and equity toward philanthropy.