We must do better

College is an incredible lever for social mobility, says Professor David Deming. But increasingly, access to a high-quality college education is more and more restricted to the wealthy. That’s not justice, and it’s not equality of opportunity. And that’s why Deming has helped start an initiative to improve the contribution of U.S. colleges and universities to economic and social mobility. “We can do better. We must do better, if we want to realize our ideals and truly create the American dream of equal opportunity and economic justice for all.”

The largest numbers of the poorest people aren’t in the poorest countries anymore; instead they make up the socioeconomic underclasses in nations that have recently achieved middle-income status. Helping build a capability to deliver basic services—education, public health, transportation—and helping train different kinds of public leaders are increasingly being viewed by development economists as among the most sustainable and cost-effective ways to help lift people out of poverty.

Professor Erica Chenoweth’s painstaking research has shed new light on the understanding of civil resistance, political change, and the surprising effectiveness of nonviolent action. With authoritarianism and populist nationalism on the rise worldwide, the importance of a carefully constructed empirical foundation has grown each year, she says. “Certainly, I didn’t think when I started down the path of this research that that would be the case.”