Welcome to Foreign Policy’s 10th annual special edition of Global Thinkers. A decade ago, in launching the series, FP’s then-editors wrote: “In a year of worldwide economic crisis and dangerous wars, of radical innovation and newfound realpolitik, street revolution and blunt rhetoric, we could think of no better way to make sense of it than through the big ideas of those who shape our understanding of the world.”That insight works just as well now as it did 10 years ago. (And the description of the world is also almost as apt today as it was in 2009.) So this year we decided that there was no better way to explicate our current, wildly complex moment—and peer into the year ahead—than to focus once more on the thinkers and doers who had a profound impact on the planet in the last 12 months. The idea is not to honor do-gooders (though we feature plenty of them) but to shine a spotlight on some of the most influential people in the world—for better or worse.
Since this is the 10th anniversary of Global Thinkers, we decided to split this year’s list of 100 into 10 groups. To start things off, we singled out 10 nominees who—by our highly scientific calculations—have had the greatest impact on the past decade. After that are people 40 and under, followed by the most influential minds in the areas of defense and security, energy and climate, technology, economics and business, science and health, and activism and the arts. Since we’re sure that you will disagree with some of our inclusions and omissions, we added a category of Global Thinkers chosen through an online readers’ poll. And since so many amazing people died in 2018, we featured some of them as well, in a category we call The Departed.
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