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IGCC History

Founded by nuclear physicist Herbert F. York, IGCC’s original emphasis on security and nuclear nonproliferation remains at its core, but its agenda has broadened with time. IGCC researchers study a wide range of topics involving the security, environmental, and economic policies that shape our ability to prevent conflict and promote cooperation.

IGCC's Origins

Newspaper clipping about UC-lab controversy, 1981

When the UC contract to manage Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories was up for review in 1981, controversy erupted among the UC faculty about the University’s links with the nuclear laboratories.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and UC President David Saxon agreed that “the University should consider the establishment of an organized unit to study questions of peace and security in an academic setting in addition to the work being done in the laboratories.”

In early 1981 Governor Brown proposed a Center for Global Security and Cooperation to the Regents. On this recommendation and concerns shared by Regent Willis Harman, the Special Committee on Global Security and Cooperation, chaired by Kenneth Trueblood and Ernst Haas, was convened in December 1981.

The committee recommended in March 1982 that the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) be formed. In defining IGCC’s research focus, the committee stated that:

The Institute should be devoted, at least during its initial phase, to the more immediate aspects of the management of international conflict. The focus of the Institute’s research program should be the study of global situations sufficiently severe so as to threaten their escalation into large-scale war, especially, but not exclusively, nuclear war.

A non-exhaustive list of suggested topics included:

  1. The military-political context of relations among the major powers as a source of conflict and war.
  2. Nuclear energy and nonproliferation.
  3. The global context of major power conflict and cooperative modes of managing conflict.

In 1985, IGCC was approved as a multicampus research unit to be housed at UC San Diego. It is hosted by the School of Global Policy & Strategy.

Dr. Herbert F. York

  • Herbert F. York, c. 2006Renowned physicist and Manhattan Project participant 
  • First director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (1952‒1958)
  • First chief scientist, Advanced Research Projects Agency (later DARPA) and first director of Defense Research and Engineering (under Eisenhower) (1958–61)
  • First chancellor of UC San Diego (1961‒1964); interim chancellor (1970‒1972)
  • Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Public Affairs (1973‒1983)
  • Founding director of the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (1983‒1989)

York advised five presidents on science and technology issues, and served on the President’s Science Advisory Committee and Army and Air Force science advisory boards.

In 1972, York established an academic program on science, technology, and public affairs that sponsored research and teaching on international security policy issues. It was housed in the Physics Department at UC San Diego.

York was appointed IGCC’s first director in July 1983 and served until 1989. He kept an office at IGCC until 2000 and was instrumental in launching IGCC’s Public Policy and Nuclear Threats program.