In 2015, The Baker Center gathered cross-institutional leaders for a series of dinners—at Georgetown, and in London, New York, and Chicago—to introduce ourselves, talk about our mission, and get their thoughts on how we can be effective—and how we can be different.
We rolled out the theme we wanted to tackle, asked some tough questions, and got a few in return. We made sure the conversations were off-the-record to allow for candid feedback.
In London we talked about inequality not just in terms of income, but also assets. We also discussed the theme of inclusive prosperity through the lens of education—is a university education necessary, or is the challenge to better prepare students for the jobs that will be waiting for them upon graduation? How does technology play into this—it’s widely assumed that technology is an advantage, but many don’t have access to it. Across the board, attendees resoundingly agreed that in addition to the lack of economic prospects and income, there’s a tangible lack of hope that the gap can be stopped or reversed.
New York City
Our dinner in New York touched on the Baker Center mission, and the need for more respectful discourse in our society. The attendees also explored one of the core convictions—the prevailing sense that Americans feel like the cards are stacked against them, and that the general public has a deep distrust of institutions.
Attendees noted that work on the local and community level can have a huge impact—and the idea for our regional events was born.
In Chicago, attendees spent time exploring the ways in which shared prosperity impacts the business community, and agreed that businesses can and should be more involved with contributing solutions.