The U.S. Generation Gap: A Tale of Two Countries
Younger and older Americans held broadly similar views throughout much of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. A majority of both younger and older adults, for example, voted for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. But now the generation gap is back. Over the last decade, the generations have diverged sharply, with Americans under 40 becoming strongly liberal and those over 55 strongly conservative. Younger Americans favor a more activist government and delight in the country’s newfound diversity. They’re also more optimistic about the country’s future — its economy, its technology, its culture, its global standing. And yet they have suffered more during the disappointing economy of the past decade than any other age group — one reason, it seems, they favor a bigger safety net. Today and in the years ahead, the new generation gap will be one of the defining forces in American life, shaping the debate over the deficit, the size of government and the global role of the United States. Is it possible for the generations to find more common ground these issues and immigration, education and gun violence?
Moderated by David Leonhardt, Washington D.C. bureau chief of The New York Times
The Big Shift: How We Learn, Work, and Innovate in a Digital World
In the 20th century most of our institutions (schools, companies, agencies), along with their practices, methods of production and forms of innovation were built on predictable needs and demands. Then the big shift happened. The linear laws of the electro-mechanical world were pushed aside and replaced by the exponential laws of the digital and networked age disrupting nearly all our institutions and our mental models for how the world works. For example, cloud computing transformed what startups can do with almost no money. New ways of working and learning, enabled by social media and open source creation, started to emerge from diverse and unforeseen quarters. And predictable career paths and fixed skill sets devolved to a 5 year half-life. The big shift has opened up new ways of working, learning, and innovating. Well-trod pathways of certitude have eroded and are being replaced by the adventure of finding new skills, practices, and domains of exploration. But for many, without the surety of classical safety nets, adventure turns to anxiety, without the necessary tools/equipment and orienting guides, the enterprise is often hard to embrace. The purpose of this seminar is to explore the new resources at our disposal that allow us to learn, to create, to form new identities and perhaps to find meaning in ways other than just through financial wealth.
Moderated by John Seely Brown, visiting scholar at USC and co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation
A Lifetime of Well Being
Americans, while at, or near, the top of the list in family income and material advantage are middling, at best, in terms of happiness compared to other industrialized countries. We overwork and spend disproportionate amounts of time on child-centric activities, even though we are often too distracted to actually be emotionally available to our children or other important relationships. Reflection, quiet pleasure, self-development and service to others are all neglected. This seminar will explore what constitutes a life well-lived and whether we need to bifurcate success and happiness to achieve it. Is happiness the goal we should be striving for? What other traits and goals are likely to lead to a better quality of life for us and for our children, ultimately insuring a healthier and more vibrant country?
Moderated by Madeline Levine, psychologist, educator, and co-founder of Challenge Success, Stanford School of Education
Sustainably Feeding the World and Protecting the Earth
By the year 2050, there will be approximately 9.5 Billion people, or approximately 30% more than currently occupy the earth. Most of that population growth will be in the developing world; India, China and the sub-saharan African continent. With the earth’s resources stretched, one of the most pressing questions for the next 30 years will remain how can we produce enough food to feed a growing and hungry world without destroying the earth’s natural resources and using excessive amounts of water? And how can we handle these tasks in the face of volatile climate and weather challenge? And while millions of people will continue to struggle with hunger, malnutirition and poverty, how can we make nations food self-sufficient, and economically viable, so they can break out of the cycle of poverty, hunger, and in many cases political instability? And what is the role of new and modern technologies, including biotechnology and genetic engineering, in helping to solve these problems? And what is the role and responsibility of the private sector and agribusiness in participating in these solutions?
Moderated by Dan Glickman, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
The New Global Middle Class: How Will Rising Consumption Transform Innovation, Trade and Markets
The strength of the middle class as producers, consumers, and voters has long been critical to the development of free market societies in Europe and North America. But today two dramatic new stories are unfolding. In Europe and the US the middle-class growth is threatened by global competition, depressed housing markets, and austerity that have driven up unemployment and depleted savings. Yet at the same time a new global middle class, potentially even larger, is arising in emerging markets. With middle class consumption growing in China, India and other newly industrializing economies, and economic challenges facing the West, what will be the impact on global economic growth and innovation? How will technology and cultural differences impact this power shift and the future global marketplace?
Moderated by Jack Goldstone, Hazel Professor of Public Policy and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center of George Mason University