Slavery & Its Aftermath

History has shown that oftentimes national action followed strategic work by local actors. Community-based reparations solutions may, when combined with strategic and innovative collaboration, serve as models for communities across the nation. Citizens and community leaders in Evanston, IL came to understand that social policy meant black and brown communities paid an exceptional price for the war on drugs with higher than anticipated incarceration rates. As a result, it decided to use tax funds from the legalization of marijuana to underwrite investment in and financial resources for its black residents. Recent actions by local officials in Asheville, North Carolina to apologize for slavery and earmark funds to African Americans for financial restitution as well as the state government in California’s decision to impanel a task force to explore the historical rationale for reparations suggest that this moment is ripe for more community examinations and solutions.

Water, Equity & Security

Water futures contracts are now available to trade for the first time in U.S. market history. While the intent is to give the agricultural sectors a tool to hedge risk on future water shortages, some fear that trading a "basic human right" could distort water prices. For now, however, the market is on the rise very slowly, due to the highly localized nature of water pricing, as well as apprehension about derivative-based price increases for the vital resource. But there is no telling what kind of traction the market will achieve, and how that might affect access for a number of different user groups.

The Future of Work

"Globalization," "automation," and "artificial intelligence" are terms that make up the nomenclature for defining the 21st-century economy.  As such, they are critical in the project of re-educating low income African-Americans and others living at or near poverty about the structure and processes constituting the modern world of work. Too many Americans have heard of these terms and understand that they have something to do with how work has transformed over recent decades. Yet, they do not understand in precise manner how those terms reflect changing labor market circumstances that bear upon their own lives. Lower income adults, therefore, require extensive educational exposure to the realities of the modern world of work such that they can more effectively embrace what post industrialism is and how it operates.

Undoubtedly, there remains great need in America for the kind of skills cultivated during the industrial era. Manufacturing, construction, and other employment sectors that constitute the industrial era remain essential elements of the world of work, and they rely upon skilled tradespeople to perform certain tasks.  However, it also remains that these and other jobs will be conditioned by developments in the post-industrial world, where technological advance will dictate where, how, and when the skills reflective on the industrial sphere will come into play. Accordingly, the fate of lower-income Americans rests in the extent to which job training programs, community colleges, and the other formal institutions that interface in their lives to enable their pursuit of socio-economic mobility provide them with improved understandings of the forces and factors that shape the modern world of work.  Those forces and factors are enduring globalization and the extension of automation and technology in modern life. The capacity for young people to understand this will be the game changer in addressing how to deal with a younger generation stuck on living in a kind of industrial-era world that is no longer and that is not coming back.

Democracy & Diversity

There is a disproportionate lack of diversity observed in the job applicant pool at the university president and provost level. However, this is not the case at the dean, director and department chair tier. What explains this gap? One observation, contributed by the panelists of the Academic Leadership Institute's (ALI) first webinar, suggests that faculty of color tend to cluster in the humanities and student affairs, which produce very few university presidents and provosts. These areas are more likely to develop diversity-specific roles, effectively siloing otherwise would-be institutional leaders. Another contributing factor is the lack of mentorship for faculty and leaders of color in the academy. Increasing trainings and access to trainings can help rising higher education leaders aim (and achieve) the top level roles--something the ALI aims to do through its residential program.