Research Briefs


A National Call to Action on Citizenship Education

The disappearance of the political middle ground impedes intelligent dialogue on critical national issues, such as the role of government in a free society or the divide between rich and poor, and drives discourse to the extremes. “But there’s a way to engage our nation and its leaders in a dialogue to help navigate the difficult journey through the polarized chaos that paralyzes politics today,” write Richard Parker and George Nethercutt, an iop resident fellow and a former Republican congressman. “It allows the left and right to come together for consensus on one policy issue that defies political polarization: citizenship education.” Americans have consistently tested very poorly on knowledge of their country’s history and civics. “Citizenship education can build a bridge between liberals and conservatives and yield political and policy progress. If Americans know our national story, they can better perpetuate the principles that have made America what it is today. National history can be instructive, helping us know how to avoid war or secure economic progress, civil rights and individual freedom. It’s a history many Americans have in common.”

Richard Parker, A National Call to Action on Citizenship Education; The Seattle Times

Designing a Bretton Woods Institution to Address Climate Change

“The information structure of the climate change policy collaboration problem necessitates the design of institutions to enhance public knowledge about nations’ commitments, policies, and outcomes,” writes Joseph Aldy in proposing a Bretton Woods-like institution to address climate change. Modeled after the institutions that came out of Bretton Woods — the imf and the World Bank — the new one should have three primary functions: implementing a system of national and global policy surveillance; promoting best policy practices; and providing a means to channel financing for investments in mitigation activities in developing countries. “Designing and implementing a new Bretton Woods Climate Institution would signal a new seriousness by the international community in its effort to combat climate change. Such an institution, on par with existing institutions to address international financial, trade, and development challenges, could serve as an important foundation for the next steps to address climate change.”

Joseph Aldy, Designing a Bretton Woods Institution to Address Climate Change; Harvard Kennedy School Working Paper

One Answer to Secret Service Scandal? Hire More Women

The Colombia prostitution scandal that rocked the Secret Service is indicative of a problem that can’t be “solved by the passage of new laws or by moving the boxes around on an organization chart,” writes Elaine Kamarck. “Even the swift action taken to remove the offenders from their jobs, and to revoke the security clearances of others will not offer much of a deterrent once memories of the scandal fade and some new outrage surfaces to dominate the news. Ordinarily, changing an organization’s culture is pretty hard work. But when the culture in need of change is a macho culture where good old-fashioned debauchery and “boys being boys” is OK as long as no one gets caught — the solution is pretty straightforward: Hire more women. As we’ve seen in the military, when technology takes over from muscle, women start to do the same things as men. In the workplace they begin to go where only men used to go. And outside of the workplace? Well, it’s hard to imagine an organization where the women head out to a brothel together.”

Elaine KamarckOne Answer to Secret Service Scandal? Hire More Women; CNN

Al Qaeda Loses Its Way

“Who killed Osama bin Laden? Former political leaders, military brass, and intelligence chieftains are all staking their claims, as if there’s a contest that will crown a winner,” writes Juliette Kayyem. “If so, it’s the wrong contest. The much more consequential question is: Is bin Laden really gone?” In 2003, polling found that 56 percent of the citizens of Jordan, an American ally and a stable nation, viewed al Qaeda favorably and in 2005 that number had risen another five points. Today it has slipped to just 13 percent. “Now, the trends are clear throughout the region; not only has Al Qaeda lost its leadership, it has lost its way. This is a pretty important strategic victory for the United States. It also shows why a week that began with memories of bin Laden ended with the president making a surprise visit to Afghanistan. Obama’s trip to Kabul to sign a long-term military cooperation agreement with President Hamid Karzai was a return to the basics...We know who killed bin Laden. The pivot back to a singular focus in Afghanistan is an important way to keep him dead.”

Juliette Kayyem, Al Qaeda Loses Its Way; The Boston Globe

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