2021: Urbanization and International Affairs

Submissions are currently being accepted on a rolling basis. See below for further detail.


The world’s urban centers have experienced unprecedented growth in recent decades, with the global population rising from 751 million in 1950 to 4.2 billion in 2018. By 2030, 43 megacities, of over 10 million inhabitants each, will be established. Rapid urbanization is taking place disproportionately in African and Asian countries, with results at scale in China, India, and Nigeria.

Ostensibly a demographic shift, this is a bellwether of a megatrend that presents distinct foreign policy opportunities and challenges, stemming from transformations in international affairs. Domestically, states struggle to meet the housing, energy, and transportation needs of their ever-expanding citizenries. Internationally, states face changing landscapes of cooperation and competition, and transnationally pervasive trends in democracy and authoritarianism, protest, identity and historical memory, corruption, and climate change play out in rural and urban sites that would be alien to residents a generation ago. Indeed, states themselves cede political ground to cities at both domestic and international levels.

What does this mean for our understanding of international relations and foreign policy? How should scholars, policy practitioners, business leaders, and social changemakers think about increasing urbanization, and how should we adapt?

This 148th edition of the Journal of International Affairs (JIA) seeks to provide an enduring/definitive examination of how the growth and proliferation of cities, and the contemporary entities and dynamics in international affairs, are shaping and transforming each other.


JIA seeks contributions that establish compelling ways of thinking about urban and rural contexts as independent or dependent, in ways that directly influence practical international affairs.

Intersecting themes of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Climate change;
  • The urban-rural divide;
  • Global economic transformation;
  • The future of work;
  • Public security, counterterrorism, and human rights;
  • Post-conflict reconstruction;
  • Deurbanization or counter-urbanization;
  • Resilient cities;
  • Digitization and smart cities;
  • City privatization;
  • The role of international organizations;
  • The global refugee crisis; and
  • City diplomacy and city networks.

JIA welcomes contributions that cross-cut themes of interest with an explicit regional focus. JIA encourages contributors focusing on a particular country to clearly state the implications of their arguments in an international or transnational context.

Submission Guidelines

JIA publishes peer-reviewed academic essays of 4,000-6,000 words and analytical arguments of 1,500-3,000 words, which are not peer reviewed. Those interested in contributing are welcome to submit for either format.

All articles must represent original, unpublished work. JIA follows Chicago style, and its citation format is an adaptation of Chicago’s Notes and Bibliography system. Adaptations of existing work, such as book chapters, are considered if they are distinct enough from the original, and conference papers are welcome.

Interested contributors may submit a 200-word abstract or pitch detailing key questions, arguments, methodology and findings (for an essay), and implications for scholars and policy practitioners. Full drafts are welcome and encouraged. Please email [email protected] with “JIA 2021 Submission” in the subject line.

Abstracts will be considered on a rolling basis until April 16, 2021 and drafts will be considered on a rolling basis until April 23, 2021 for academic essays and until May 7, 2021 for analytical arguments. Earlier submission is preferred.

About Us

Founded in 1947, the Journal of International Affairs, published by Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, is the premier university-affiliated periodical in the field and has earned worldwide recognition for framing the debates and discourses that define international relations and the practice of foreign policy. Contributors represent a diverse group of academics and practitioners. Notable authors have included Hannah Arendt, J. Brian Atwood, Jagdish Bhagwati, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, Francis Deng, Francis Fukuyama, W. Averell Harriman, John Kerry, Robert S. McNamara, Margaret Mead, Hans Morgenthau, Luis Moreno Ocampo, Giandomenico Picco, Condoleezza Rice, Marco Rubio, Rajiv Shah, Paul Volcker, Kenneth Waltz, Joshua Wong, and Muhammad Yunus.

Contact Us

Please do not hesitate to contact Marisa Coulton and Monica Hunter-Hart, senior editors, at [email protected], with any inquiries about contribution. For other inquiries related to the issue, please contact Samir Kumar, managing editor, at [email protected]; or Jiwon Ma, editor in chief, at [email protected].