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Under the direction of Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels, the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) has drawn upon the deep expertise of JHU’s schools and departments as well as its unique programs like the SNF Agora Institute and the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), to convene distinguished experts from within and outside of the University, on June 30 and July 1, for a virtual global conference in the “World Order after COVID-19 Forum.”

Building upon its existing America and the Future of World Order project, SAIS Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor Hal Brands, and the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and Director of the Kissinger Center Frank Gavin have commissioned papers from leading international scholars and practitioners. To further public dialogue, the pieces will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in September in the forthcoming COVID-19 and World Order: The Future of Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has levelled a crippling blow to global public health while devastating the world economy. The consequences of the pandemic, however, go much further – to threatening the well-being and future of national and international politics. As Henry Kissinger recently warned, “The coronavirus epidemic will forever alter the world order.”

The pandemic hits at an especially troubling moment, when the future and legitimacy of the institutions, principles, and practices of the international system were already under grave stress. The rise of populism and authoritarianism, the return of great power political competition, the emergence of new transnational challenges ranging from climate change to profound and unsettling technological changes take place with the backdrop of fraying alliances, political polarization, and a United States that often appears in retreat. The pandemic has brutally exposed many of the weaknesses in our national and international governance systems. Under these pressures, many have wondered whether the idea of a “liberal international order” lost its value.

Moments of great shock, however, can also provide an opportunity to boldly re-imagine our future and build a new world. After the Second World War, American statesmen led an effort to heal and rebuild an international system scarred by decades of economic volatility, political turbulence, and total war. But they did more than look to the past: they built institutions and practices that anticipated future challenges. The liberal world order created after 1945 laid the foundations for a period of unparalleled stability and prosperity.

This moment of crisis and uncertainty demands a similar act of imagination and vision for our future. What will be the consequences of the pandemic for the future of world order, and what steps can we take to use this moment to better ensure future peace and prosperity for the nation and the world? No one is better suited to think about the future of world order after COVID-19 than Johns Hopkins University. Few institutions can match the deep and broad intellectual talent in crucial disciplines ranging from public health and medicine, economics, international security, engineering and technology, ethics, democracy and governance, to mention only a few. Equally important, Johns Hopkins University possesses extraordinary convening power, to bring experts from around the world to our campus to shape a better future.

We are delighted that you will join us, and welcome you to invite others, to engage in this international public dialogue about the future world that we wish to build together.