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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

Energy and the Environment

The goal of energy that is reliable, resilient, affordable, and not detrimental to the environment is straightforward, but has not been so easy to reach. Can we achieve all four simultaneously when it comes to energy policy and the environment? What is the current situation and how did we get here? And what energy policy best balances meeting our energy needs while being responsible stewards of the world’s resources?

Deep Dives: Water and Power
Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series

Failing Grade: Literacy in America

In the United States, 54% of American adults read below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level, and nearly one in five adults reads below a third-grade level. Lower literacy rates directly correlate to higher unemployment rates, reduced income, and overall impacts U.S. competitiveness on the global stage. Understanding both K-12 literacy rates as well as adult literacy rates at a local level is critical to improve overall literacy policy and drive access to literacy programming.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series

Free Speech

What is free speech? What are the limits to free speech? How does free speech play out on university campuses and on social media platforms? This brief discusses freedom of speech as provided in the First Amendment of the Constitution, why it is important in a democracy, court decisions that have limited and/or expanded these freedoms over time, and the challenges of supporting freedom of speech while also promoting safety and security of the nation and its citizens.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series The Active Citizenship Series

Government Transparency and Accountability

The United States political system was originally founded on the idea of consent of the governed. Today’s government relies on thousands of administrative officials, which makes it difficult for citizens to know who is making decisions. Only with transparency at the administrative level can citizens know the decision makers and the decision making process, which allows them to hold elected and appointed officials accountable for the results of those decisions.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series

Health Care

From ancient times it has been understood that “Good health and good sense are two of life's greatest blessings.”
(Publilius Syrus)

Good health is a building block of a good life and the American Dream. Advanced medicine is modern-day blessings courtesy of economic development and American medicine is by some measures the best in the world, but costs have been rising for decades, creating problems of access and affordability, and suppressing wage growth. Reforms meant to address these concerns have had unsatisfactory results. Is there a better way?

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The 2023 Series

Health Disparities & Determinants of Health

Disparities in health and health care across the United States reveal weaknesses in the country's health systems. Understanding what these disparities are, how they originate, and their effects on health outcomes and the health care system can help determine strategies and policies that benefit the health of individuals, their communities, and the United States as a whole.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series

Higher Education Reform

Education is the pathway to a productive life. Higher education has opened opportunities for millions of people, and in doing so has bettered our economy and society. But the existing system is not working well for many, and costs have been rising rapidly. Can it be made to work better?

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series


“We are a nation of immigrants.” No doubt you have heard that well-known saying describing the rich tradition of people arriving from all over the world onto our shores to find opportunity and forge a new life of prosperity.

Immigration has also become a highly charged topic with wide-ranging viewpoints on who should be allowed entry and what the appropriate levels of immigration are for our country.

In this brief we provide an overview of this issue, define some key terminology, look at the history of immigration policy, understand the numbers over the years, outline varying viewpoints, explore areas of future reform, and identify resources where you can learn more.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series The World View Series

Judicial Selection

Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch and designates U.S. Congress shall have the power to establish district courts and courts of appeal. Once these courts are established, they require judges to conduct courtroom proceedings. Judges adjudicate legal cases, but how are judges selected and appointed?

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series The Active Citizenship Series

Mental Health

Mental health is an issue that affects every facet of our lives. To be a thriving society, individuals need to feel in balance with their emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing, and have the ability to cope with challenges they face so they can reach their full potential. The goal of this brief is to define mental health, examine the current landscape of the impact of and challenges presented by mental health problems, and highlight solutions that may inspire you to act on this issue.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2023 Series

Rebuilding Trust in America

America faced unprecedented challenges in 2020, and the deluge of information and misinformation has been staggering. Pervasive distrust undermines authority and credibility of leading institutions, and hinders collaboration within and amongst communities. What does the state of trust look like in America today? And how can we as citizens bridge these gaps?

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