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Fonna Forman

Professor of Political Science / Director, UCSD Center on Global Justice

Fonna Forman (JD, PhD Chicago) is a Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the Center on Global Justice at the University of California, San Diego.  She is known internationally for her revisionist research on Adam Smith, recuperating the ethical, spatial and public dimensions of his thought. Since 2009 she has served as Editor of the Adam Smith Review, the premier international journal of Smith’s thought. 

Forman’s research engages the intersection of ethics, public culture, urban policy and the city – with a special focus on climate justice, border ethics and equitable urbanization.  Blurring conventional boundaries between theory and practice, and transgressing the fields of political theory and urbanism, urban policy and architecture, visual arts and public culture, Forman partners closely with UC San Diego Visual Arts Professor, Teddy Cruz, leading variety of urban research agendas and civic / public interventions in the San Diego-Tijuana border region and beyond. From 2012-14 they served as special advisors on civic and urban initiatives for the City of San Diego and led the development of its Civic Innovation Lab. Together they lead the UCSD Community Stations, a network of field stations across the border region, designed for engaged research and teaching on poverty and social equity, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UC Regent Richard C. Blum, ArtPlace America and many others.

Their work has been profiled widely in important publications including Domus, ArtForum, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Next City; and exhibited in prestigious cultural venues across the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; Das Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the 2018 Venice Architectural Biennale. 

In recent years, Forman has also partnered closely with renowned UCSD-Scripps climatologist Veerabhadran Ramanathan on a variety of projects related to climate disruption, and the disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, including two 2017 papers on “climate migration” and ‘climate justice’ for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences; and several international and state-wide task forces on climate change solutions. In 2017, Forman presented her research at the Vatican summit on Climate Change and Health.  She was Vice-Chair of the influential University of California’s 2015 Bending the Curve report on climate change solutions.  She and Ramanathan piloted the Bending the Curve as a system-wide University of California undergraduate course on integral climate change solutions.  The course is now taught on all 10 campuses of the University of California.

Forman is an advocate for engaged social science, and deepening university-community research partnerships. In 2014, she was appointed by British PM Gordon Brown to serve on the Global Citizenship Commission, advising UN policy on human rights in the 21st century. At UC San Diego, she is affiliated with the Center for Energy Research, the Institute for Public Health, the Deep Decarbonization Initiative, and the Border Solutions Alliance.  She currently serves on the advisory boards of the School of Public Health, the Global Health Program, the Center for Global Mental Health, the Urban Studies and Planning Program, and the Center for Tomorrow’s California.  She is an Inaugural UCSD Changemaker Faculty Fellow for 2019-20.

Ph.D. University of Chicago 2001

Political Theory



Curriculum Vitae