About Meridian 180

Meridian 180 is a multilingual forum for transformative leadership. Founded in 2012, Meridian 180's strength comes from its membership—800+ thought leaders from academia, business, and the public sector from 29 different countries. With a center of gravity in the Pacific Rim, Meridian 180 builds the intellectual, social, and political infrastructure required to address the crises of today and tomorrow. 

Meridian 180 is a partnership of Cornell University's Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture at Cornell Law School, Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea, the Institute for Social Science at the University of Tokyo, and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Annelise Riles is the director of Meridian 180. Riles is the Jack G. Clarke '52 Professor of Far East Legal Studies at Cornell Law School.

Meridian 180 provides the platform for 800+ experts from around the world to collaborate on pressing global issues. Through a multilingual and inter disciplinary approach, Meridian 180 hosts online discussions and convenes global meeting that generate an eco-system of scholarship that is creative and interdisciplinary, and results in research-based solutions designed to influence public discourse and government policy in a multitude of nations.

The Problem

Today’s interconnected world presents challenges that overwhelm even the experts. The world is on the verge of a “global reset” in which given paradigms, political alliances, and modes of expertise no longer hold. Pressing issues such as immigration and migration, inequality, recession, aging populations, energy supply and data governance are not contained by borders or cultures. Expert focus calls for a narrowing of views and concepts; yet complex global issues are expansive, unwieldy, and chaotic.

Despite the global context of these problems, research is conducted by experts working in silos of expertise, geography, culture, and language, dominated by western perspectives and conducted largely in English. Ongoing, global research collaborations are rare.

The Solution

New ways of engaging thought leaders across disciplines and across national borders are required to create the new ideas of our time.

This is Meridian 180’s role in the world—to create new modes of understanding and investigation and to galvanize experts and thought leaders to collaborate. With a center of gravity in the Pacific Rim, Meridian 180 seeks to catalyze transformative change in research to advance democratic solutions for chronic and emerging global problems. We are widening silos of expertise, we are transforming academic research, and we are building a truly transnational, global approach to policy innovations. Meridian 180 is committed to global conversations and global research initiatives.

Over the past five years, Meridian 180 has built the platform for multilingual discussion and inquiry and assembled a unique group of creative thinkers to drive the exploration and formulation of ‘outside the box’ policy solutions. We have built a core operation as a global structure, and we are contributing to large-scale research and the formulation of policy innovations.

Only Meridian 180 harnesses the power of translation to ensure a global dialogue. Meridian 180 has the unique strength of rapid turnaround translation and dissemination in four key languages - Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean. The ability to accurately and quickly translate participants’ insights makes Meridian’s online and face-to-face forums exceptional platforms for a truly global conversation and robust real-time exchange.

Meridian 180 Model

Our work model begins with an online forum held in Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean, and aimed at collecting a broad range of viewpoints and perspectives. This is followed by more focused and intensive forums, often leading to a live conference backed up with online discussions, and resulting in a published book (in four languages), academic journal issue, or policy-oriented white paper.

What Makes Us Different

Multilingual Dialogue

Meridian 180 harnesses the power of translation to ensure a global exchange of ideas. Our work takes place in four different languages, including Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean.

Transnational Membership

Our members come from around the world and represent a wide range of disciplines, expertise, and professional domains. They are academics, lawyers, policymakers, and business professionals. They include anthropologists, computer scientists, economists, political scientists, sociologists, healthcare professionals, hackers, and legal experts. They come from 29 countries and more than 380 different professional affiliations.

Policy Outputs

We start with dialogue but we produce more than talk. Our work model focuses on outputs such as academic research, international working groups, conferences and workshops that are implemented in a wide range of jurisdictions and nation-states. Currently Meridian 180 has active research bases operating in the U.S., Korea, and Japan, as well as online.

Organizational Structure

Meridian 180 is a global organization with bases at leading research universities. Currently, there are bases at Cornell University, Ewha Womans University, and the University of Tokyo. Plans for additional bases are underway.

Meridian 180 is supported through the generosity of Cornell University’s Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture at Cornell Law School, Ewha Womans University in Seoul, the Institute for Social Science at The University of Tokyo, and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, as well as private donors.

Annelise Riles, Director of Meridian 180, leads the project under the guidance of the Core Idea Group and the Advisory Council.


Meridian 180 was just a concept when the twin disasters of the Great East Japan earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster hit Japan in 2011. Very quickly, Meridian 180 launched its multilingual online forums for academics and policymakers to begin a dialogue and to explore contributions that they could make to the devastating crises. Right away it was apparent that Meridian 180’s platform could open a rich, global conversation about pressing issues. In its first two years of operations, Meridian 180 hosted 16 online forums that attracted more than 225 scholarly posts from an inter-disciplinary group of academics as well as policymakers and professionals.

Meridian 180 was created by a core group of scholars and policymakers from Japan, China and the United States under the direction of Annelise Riles at Cornell University. Its founders wanted to create the conditions for a richer transnational policy conversation, to promote a more cosmopolitan orientation among intellectual and policy elites and to lay the groundwork for the development of new paradigms of academic thought that benefits from the disparate views of thinkers from around the world and in different disciplines and professions.

The online forums were launched in 2011, and the first base was established at Cornell Law School. In 2014, the Korean base was established at Ewha Womans University and was quickly followed by the Japan base at the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo in 2016. The Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University became an institutional partner in 2016.