The Global Strategy Lab is a bi-campus interdisciplinary research program that brings cutting-edge science and scholarship to bear on how global institutions, instruments and initiatives are designed to better address the most pressing global challenges. Directed by Steven J. Hoffman and based at York University and the University of Ottawa, the Lab focuses on three priorities:

  1. Generating evidence  about different global strategies including when, how and why they can be used to tackle transnational health threats and social inequalities.
  2. Developing new analytic, empirical and big data  methods for evaluating complex global strategies and using them to draw new insights about how to implement global agreements, goals and policies.
  3. Translating research into evidence-based collective action by working with governments, civil society organizations and international agencies in developing their global strategies and training the next generation of strategic thinkers and leaders in global governance, law and politics.

The creation of a Global Strategy Lab was in response to an increasingly interdependent world where health and well-being are intrinsically shaped by circumstances, decisions and events occurring in far-away places and mysterious spaces. Pandemics spread between countries within hours, medicines are manufactured by varying standards, food supply lines are globally integrated, and climate change continues unabated. The risks and potential rewards of globalization have never been greater, but managing these risks and reaping these rewards depends on achieving global collective action among the world’s governments, civil society organizations, businesses and international agencies. Unfortunately, existing global institutional architecture seems to have reached the limit of what it is capable of delivering. The basic tools of governance at our disposal have not changed much since state sovereignty was codified in 1648, despite radical changes in the depth and breadth of what we intend to achieve from them. Lightning-speed breakthroughs in health science and medicine have not been matched by advances in the global governance mechanisms necessary to deliver them.

No single set of actors has shown itself capable of addressing today’s multifaceted challenges. Yet reforming global institutional architecture has proven difficult across policy areas. Reforms require time, resources, will and support. But they also require knowledge, expertise and evidence about the various technologies of institutional change – including the full range of legal, political, social and economic strategies – that can help achieve changes that are sought.

The Global Strategy Lab was specifically designed to bridge this knowledge gap and build on Canada's internationally recognized leadership in interdisciplinarity (priority #1), research methodology (priority #2) and knowledge translation (priority #3), ensuring the Lab is a world-first in its mission, focus and way of working. The Lab responds to capacity limitations by developing new methods for studying global interventions and training the next generation in how to use and/or benefit from them. Traditional silos are broken down by being intensely interdisciplinary and working at the nexus of epidemiology, health policy,
informatics, international relations, law, medicine, political science, sociology, statistics and other disciplines. The Lab addresses the challenge of thinly spread expertise by networking leading scholars in the area and serving as a flagship for collaborative multi-centre research, education and policy initiatives. Working with partners like Chatham House, Cochrane Collaboration, Harvard Global Health Institute, and Norwegian Institute of Public Health ensures the Lab helps deepen its network’s connections with and contributions to the world.

There is a critical need and great opportunity to strengthen global strategies for improved health and well-being worldwide with synthesized evidence, new approaches and collective action. The Global Strategy Lab will do its best to ensure this need is met and opportunity maximized for a healthier, safer and more equitable future.