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Armed Forces

Following the attacks on Sept. 11th, 2001, the United States experienced nearly 20 years of armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan was the longest war in U.S. history, longer than World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. It impacted not only active-duty service members and their families but also those in the industries around them, such as healthcare workers, engineers, policymakers,  those in aid organizations, and journalists; the numbers comprise an entire generation of Americans. 

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series The Foundational Series

Civic Engagement

What is civic engagement? Why is it important and how can you become more involved in your community? In this brief, we seek to provide a deeper understanding of the importance of Americans’ participation in civic life. We’ll also explain how The Policy Circle helps to build social capital, a crucial element of society strongly related to civic duty, and how you can become a more engaged citizen.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series The Foundational Series

Free Enterprise & Economic Freedom

The free-enterprise system is the only system that has been proven to create opportunities for everyone, even the most vulnerable. This brief is a compilation of foundational work helpful for understanding and articulating the power of free markets and individual freedom in unleashing what human creativity can accomplish in a free market economy.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Business Series The Foundational Series

Introduction to The Policy Circle

The Policy Circle brings together women in the same community to learn from fact-based research and strengthen their voices in public policy dialogue. By coming together and deepening our understanding of the issues we face in our communities, our states, and our nation, we feel heard, validated, and energized, and can come up with ways to influence policy.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Foundational Series

The Executive Branch

The executive branch of the U.S. carries out and enforces laws. Some roles, namely the President and Vice President, are well known. Most Americans are less familiar with the responsibilities of other entities, from the Cabinet’s fifteen executive department heads to the expansive number of federal agencies known by an alphabet soup of acronyms. This brief is designed to explain the structure, roles, and responsibilities of the executive branch.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series The Foundational Series

The Federal Debt

High federal deficits and debts emerged in the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. Since the Great Recession though, a more troubling phenomenon has emerged: persistent deficits even when the country is at peace and is enjoying economic growth, leading to a constantly expanding national debt. Why are these annual deficits occurring year after year? What are the key contributing factors? If there is a way for our nation to reign in this out-of-control spending, what should be done and who will it impact?

State Specific Information: Illinois
Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The Foundational Series

U.S. Constitution

The Constitution has been deeply debated since before its inception, and these debates continue today. If this democracy (i.e. constitutional republic) is going to work we all have to be active, educated players in the debate. To do so, knowing the origins and basics of the Constitution is essential. How did the founders develop the Constitution, and what does it cover? Who does it govern and how? What is its meaning today, and how does this relate to debates occurring in today’s courts and civil society?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series The Foundational Series


This brief will explore veteran demographics and the issues veterans face as they transition from active-duty service. With a greater understanding comes deeper appreciation for the issues and challenges faced by military personnel and their families, veterans, and the agencies that support them.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series The Foundational Series