Future Hindsight

By Mila Atmos

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Exploring the intersection of civic engagement and civil discourse.

Episode Date
Maria Yuan

Maria Yuan is the founder of Issue Voter, an organization whose mission is to make civic engagement accessible, efficient, and impactful. We talk about the importance of being informed on the bills before Congress, communicating your priorities and opinions to your representative, and understanding whether your rep is truly representing you.

Our voice matters
One of the benefits of living in a democracy is making our voices heard. In fact, representatives keep track of constituent contact in order to better understand how their community prioritizes issues. They also appreciate expanding their communication beyond the actively engaged core constituents. Technology enables voters to have efficient and impactful communication with their representatives.

Today’s technology helps us track how representatives vote, so we know if they are truly representing us. Based on a representative’s legislative voting record, we can make an educated decision on whether to re-elect our representatives or vote them out of office. When voters are aware and engaged, outside money doesn't have as much of an influence in keeping incumbents in power.

Better-informed citizens are better voters
Over 10,000 bills are introduced in one session of Congress, which means that we don’t hear about most them. The more we inform ourselves, the more we will be able to engage on issues beyond the ones featured in the news, understand the various perspectives, and then vote knowledgeably.

Find out more:
Maria Yuan is the founder of Issue Voter, an organization whose mission is to give everyone an equal voice in our democracy by making civic engagement accessible, efficient, and impactful.

Aug 11, 2018
Rachel Leyland and Dr. Kendra Abel

Rachel Leyland and Kendra Abel are public school teachers in Oklahoma City who participated in the walkout in April of 2018. We discuss how the walkout shed light on the problems caused by chronic underfunding of public education, the power of standing together to demand change, and the importance of supporting pro-education candidates for office.

Support for Public Education Bolsters Democracy
Chronic underfunding and continued cuts to public education have grave consequences. In Oklahoma, teachers and parents are supplementing educational programs out of their own pockets in order to level the playing field with education in other states. Teachers are underpaid and are forced to take second jobs, or even leave the state for better pay.

Our Humanity
A good education transforms lives. Our humanity is at stake when we forsake the future of our children. We need to teach them to have critical thinking skills, a vision for a better tomorrow, the tools to participate in our democracy, and an innate understanding that their voice is important. What we do today will affect us for generations to come.

The Power of Civic Action
The teacher walkout in Oklahoma raised awareness on the issues facing public education, ranging from large class sizes to hostile state representatives. The public now understands how meager the education budget is and what that means, as well as how their elected representatives have voted on education. Oklahomans are now engaged in an open conversation about how to improve public education.

Find out more:
Rachel Leyland and Kendra Abel are both teachers in the Oklahoma City Public School system. They participated in the teachers’ walkout that took place in Oklahoma in April of 2018. They continue to be involved with this issue through the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the OKCPS Board of Education.

Aug 04, 2018
Scott Warren

Scott Warren is the CEO and co-founder of Generation Citizen, an organization that works to ensure students in the United States receive an effective civics education. We talk about the unique power of political action to bring about change and the need to teach our youngest generations how to be active participants in our democracy.

Political action is still king
All of the important issues that affect our daily lives touch the government in some way. Politics is a powerful agent for systemic change within government. The more frustrated we are, the more imperative it becomes to participate.

The problems in our democracy run deep
One of the most reliable predictors of voting behavior is income: the participation rate is 80% at $80,000 or more, and only 40% at $40,000. We need to invest in teaching all citizens, and especially young people, their rights and responsibilities in a democracy.

Action Civics is an essential part of the answer
Action-oriented civics education in school should be prioritized like STEM subjects. Without the knowledge and practice, we cannot expect the population to be engaged. Students should learn by doing in the classroom: identifying an issue they care about, devising a plan of action, and following through with elected officials.

Find out more:
Scott Warren is the CEO and co-founder of Generation Citizen, an organization that works to bring civics education to middle and high schoolers in the US.

Jul 28, 2018
Brent Wilkes

Brent Wilkes is the former CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and a lifelong advocate for Latino rights. We discuss what fair and comprehensive immigration could be, the positive impact of immigrant labor in the US economy, and how we can demand sound immigration policy at the ballot box.

Our economy depends on immigrant labor

Immigrants are doing some of the hardest jobs in America for the lowest amount of pay, such as producing food, building houses, and providing care. Labor abuse is common with undocumented workers, as their status makes them particularly vulnerable. Providing a path to legalization for these individuals is the least we can do.

Comprehensive immigration reform

The goal is to help out-of-status residents, those who work hard and contribute to the economy, to get right with the law. Three major focus areas are: the Dreamers, children who were brought to the US by their parents as minors; the agricultural sector, which produces major exports to the rest of the world and is a traditional employer of immigrants; and the rest are laborers in other industries, such as care giving or construction.

Voter turnout is the answer

Immigrants have historically come to America from all over the world to pursue their dreams. We need to remember that our ancestors were once immigrants too, and be more welcoming to those who are pursuing the American dream today. The best way to win on immigration and encourage people to vote is to raise awareness, talk to people who are different than you, and show them that they are included in the process.

Find out more:
Brent Wilkes is the former CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). He was recently given the Lifetime Achievement, Excellence in Community Service Award by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Jul 21, 2018
Mark Hetfield

Mark Hetfield is the President and CEO of HIAS, the oldest refugee assistance organization in operation. We discuss our humanitarian obligations to refugees, the tremendous benefits that they bring to American society, and bust the misconceptions about the current refugee situation in the US.

Taking refugees is an act of humanity:

Refugees have escaped persecution, their country, their homes, and their jobs in order to survive. The Refugee Convention of 1951 is an international law that requires countries to give them protection. We bring refugees to the US because it’s a way to protect human rights and our collective humanity.

Refugees are a tremendous positive force:

They are among the most productive members of society because they have lost everything, and they know that they can’t take anything for granted. In the US, refugees have contributed many billions of dollars more than they take in services. Some of our most successful companies, such as Google and Intel, were started by refugees.

We have enormous untapped capacity to resettle refugees:

The US can take in hundreds of thousands of refugees without noticing the impact or the stress. Many faith-based agencies are clamoring to welcome and help more refugees, but the exhaustive and extreme vetting process to enter the country and the cut in funding will result in the resettlement of less than 20,000 refugees in the US this year.

Find out more:

Mark Hetfield is the CEO and President of HIAS, a refugee assistance organization, and a major implementing partner of the United Nations Refugee Agency and the U.S. Department of State.

Jul 14, 2018
Paul Lagunes

Paul Lagunes is a Columbia University political scientist whose scholarship focuses on corruption in the Americas. His current book project is Corruption and Oversight: Insights from Field Experiments. We define corruption, discuss how it relates to democracy, and learn that voting is a tool to fight against it.

Corruption is a contingent behavior
In a world of multiple equilibriums, the rules of the game differ from place to place, thus it may be rational to engage in corruption in certain contexts. The same individual will behave one way in one setting and another way in another setting. Corruption involves costs for societies at large. The losers are every day, law-abiding citizens.

The Watchful Eye and the Cracking Whip
Both transparency and punishment are essential. We need to make clear and visible that everyone who participates in corruption is punished because revealing corruption without punishment emboldens bad actors. They feel and seem empowered. Government agencies and oversight non-governmental organizations can effectively work together to satisfy both roles.

How citizens can fight corruption
We need to be informed, care about curbing corruption, and make our voices heard on the issue. The best way to do so is to vote on Election Day and to use public forums, such as town hall meetings, to confront and engage public officials. Democracy’s promise to solve corruption hinges on the premise that officials are the agents, and citizens are the principals.

Find out more:

Paul Lagunes is a political science and an Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. His work has been widely published, and he is currently working on a book titled Corruption and Oversight: Insights from Field Experiments.

Jul 07, 2018
Ian Bremmer

Raise consciousness:

Globalists have been willing to stand by while many people were left behind. Elites need to acknowledge their complicity in order to reverse the increasing division between us and them, as well as make clear to people in power that the current version of globalism is not acceptable.

More experiments are necessary:

The only effective way to tackle global issues is to start experimenting around possible solutions, each of us in the ways that we can. There are already many interesting projects ranging from continuing education for workers to flexible employment. Everyone who has the ability to do something on this issue, must do so.

Invest in humans:

The role of the government is to promote equal access to opportunity, so that all people are included in the system. Maximizing profit is not human, but it is capitalist. Injecting humanity into public policies on diverse issues like refugees or free community college will create a society where a gig economy can support families and provide a public good.

Find out more:

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, and the foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large at TIME Magazine. His latest book "Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism" is a New York Times bestseller that explores the rejection of globalism as an ideology and possible solutions for a more equitable world.

May 26, 2018
Shafi Goldwasser

Shafi Goldwasser is an award-winning mathematician and computer scientist and the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley. Her most notable work is in cryptography and zero knowledge proof. We discuss the promise of cryptography to make our society more secure. 

Data privacy and you: 

Cryptography is the field that deals with the privacy and correctness of how our information is used. It makes our data more secure, with a range of tools such as encryption, authentication, and verification. Every time we are online, we need to be vigilant about what private information we share and with whom. We should use the tools of cryptography and be careful about giving permissions for apps to access our data.  

Algorithmic Fairness and Data Bias: 

We have an idea that algorithms are fair because they are machine computations. However, algorithms do no account for actual individuals, so the data is trained with existing societal norms, which can perpetuate unfairness. Data can also be poisoned once people figure out what algorithms are used by tweaking the information in order to get the desired outcome. 

Demand accountability: 

We must demand that our personal information is only used in ways that can keep our identity private. There are already collaborative platforms using various encryption methods that are effective for governments and companies to use. “If companies get into trouble because of fiascos having to do with private data you don't just blindly continue supporting them.” 

Find out more:

Shafi Goldwasser is the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley, the world’s leading venue for collaborative research in theoretical computer science. She is also the Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and professor of computer science and applied mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She is currently working on the project "Splinter: Practical Private Queries on Public Data"

May 19, 2018
Jennifer March

Jennifer March is the Executive Director of the Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York. This non-profit and nonpartisan child advocacy organization combines public policy research and data analysis with citizen action. We discuss family homelessness, juvenile justice, and the power of effective advocacy.

Growing up poor likely leads to long term damaging outcomes:

Every child should be guaranteed a prosperous environment with proper access to health care, housing, education, and safe living conditions. Children in poverty often face multiple risk factors such as poor quality housing and low-quality schools.

Effective child advocacy requires a coalition:

A virtuous circle of a large group of people with a common interest is the most effective in pushing for change. Everyone ranging from service providers and beneficiaries, advocates lobbying the government, volunteers writing letters and making phone calls, social media, as well as participants in visible rallies come together to be heard.

A holistic approach:

We need to focus on pragmatic solutions that we know will serve a holistic approach to help provide stability and promote wellbeing, such as a housing subsidy or affordable childcare. Universal systems of early education and healthcare are fundamental building blocks for children to evolve and develop into thriving adults.

Find out more:

Jennifer March is the Executive Director of the Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York (CCC), a non-profit advocacy organization that works to ensure that every child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe.

May 12, 2018
Beto O'Rourke

Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke represents his hometown, El Paso, TX. Currently a Candidate for US Senate, he is running a people-powered campaign, visiting every single county in Texas and listening to the needs and concerns of the state’s constituents. We talk about how to rebuild our democracy, the necessity of bipartisanship, and how big money corrodes our political process.

Rebuilding democracy from the ground up:

We need representatives who truly represent the people by directly engaging with and listening to their constituents. Removing the power of political action committees (PACs), special interests, and corporations is vital to getting our democracy back and making sure that elected government is responsive to the interests and concerns of human beings.

Work together and set aside differences:

Achieving bipartisan collaboration comes through putting the small differences, including parties, behind us. Compromise is key in being able to pass legislation that will benefit all Americans on issues as diverse as healthcare, the cost of higher education, and immigration.

Big Money corrodes our democracy:

Our representatives are not corruptible on the issues that they really care about, but they often vote along with special interests when they are not experts, and don’t have a specific need to vote a certain way. It’s these little decisions in the aggregate that create dysfunction and disconnect between Congress and the people.

Find out more:
Beto O’Rourke is the US Representative for El Paso, TX, and is running for US Senate for Texas.

May 05, 2018
Ruth Milkman

Ruth Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements, and Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. We examine the role of unions for workers, the main factors of de-unionization, and the potential leadership by millennials in this space.

It’s safer to speak up as a group:

The purpose of unions is to give workers a collective voice in relation to their employers. They also negotiate contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and promote and defend workers’ concerns in the public and political spheres.

Factors that led to the decline of unionization:

Employer opposition is at the heart of the de-unionization. They have successfully mounted a series of direct attacks against them, such as double breasting in the construction industry. Two other big factors are the decline of manufacturing and deregulation.

The time to engage is now:

Many workers experience precarious labor conditions, such as in retail, where they often don’t know their schedule from week to week and they don’t know how many hours they will end up working. Teachers in non-union states are striking instead of collectively bargaining, which is more disruptive than organizing.

Find out more:

Ruth Milkman is a Sociology Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.

Apr 28, 2018
Robert Hammond

Robert Hammond is the executive director and co-founder of Friends of the High Line, which was the driving force behind turning an abandoned elevated railroad in New York City into a public park. We discuss the essential role of a city’s public open spaces and how exhilarating it is to pursue your dreams.

Parks are at the intersection of social issues:

Parks have a role in our social issues from economic injustice to education and the environment. A city’s true ingredient is people, and parks allow for the ultimate human experience of people watching, voyeurism, and interacting with others. All communities benefit from having safe, free, and open public spaces.

Get involved in your city:

Community board meetings are open to the public, and they always need people to get involved. They’re only as good as the people who participate. Many opportunities exist to volunteer in your area of interest and expertise.

Go after your dreams:

Pursuing a crazy idea is freeing, fun, and exciting. Perseverance and skepticism are a part of this process. Even if your specific vision does not come true, there is still value in thinking, talking, and organizing around the issue of public open spaces.

Apr 21, 2018
Nick Ehrmann

Nick Ehrmann is the founder and president of Blue Engine, which was borne from the discovery that the strongest predictor of college completion is sustained academic rigor in high school coursework. The organization re-imagines the classroom in order to teach students how to master core academic skills and be truly ready for college.

Prepare for success

College readiness is defined by the ability to persist and complete degrees. We need to equip students with skills and habits of mind that allow them to have true choice at the cusp of adulthood, whether it is in college, a technical trade school, or the work force.

Proximity matters

Education systems need to be designed with the students at the center. Strong, integral, human relationships between educators and students are directly correlated with high levels of academic rigor and success.

Taking action can take many different forms

Get out of your space, fight stereotypes, and challenge your assumptions. Do something where you are informed, proximate, and engaged.

Nick Ehrmann is the president and founder of The Blue Engine.

Apr 14, 2018
Tyler Ruzich

Tyler Ruzich is a 17-year old Republican candidate for governor of Kansas, one of eight teens in the race this year. We discuss what it means to be a Republican of the next generation, why it’s important to get involved now, and what young people can do to become more engaged.

Young people offer fresh perspectives:

We can make better decisions when we are well informed and more educated. Young people bring ideas and perspectives that may not have been considered before. They’re eager to do something and bring authenticity to the table.

Evolve and Change:

Political parties need to shift along with cultural and societal changes. Addressing the issues that are important to young people – LGBTQ rights, gun control, education – is a way to prepare for the future.

Be Responsible, Get Involved:

Take charge, do good, and take accountability for yourself. Serve on a teen council and learn how governmental issues are addressed. Volunteer for a congressional, state, or local race in 2018 or 2020. The best person to fight for the issues that are important to you is you.

Find out more:

Learn about Tyler Ruzich's campaign for governor of Kansas at https://www.ruzichforgovernor.com/

Apr 07, 2018
Season 2 Trailer

A sneak peek of our next episode: civic engagement requires no minimum age. Tyler Ruzich, 17-year old Kansan, shows us how.

Mar 31, 2018
Ai-Jen Poo

In the 8th and last episode of Season 1, we discuss the elder boom, and the increasing importance of home care and domestic work in our society.

Award-winning activist Ai-Jen Poo, a leading advocate for domestic workers’ rights and family care, discusses the challenges of the elder boom. She lays out how home care can help us face the coming demographic change and the ways in which we can engage to demand a new Caring infrastructure.

The Care Crisis is Here:

Baby boomers are aging at a rate of 10,000 people per day. This means that 4 million turn 65 every year. The 85 and older demographic is the fastest growing demographic in the country. The demand for care workers is exploding, but we have no program in place to support these people to be able to afford elder care. 

Home Care is the Future:

Elders want to age at home. It is cheaper and has better outcomes. Good care giving is the best prevention, which avoids unnecessary and expensive end-of-life hospitalization or institutionalization. We need a Care infrastructure that provides affordable, high quality care for families and creates professional jobs for care workers with dignity, benefits, and a living wage.

Demand a Solution:

Track and follow Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Create demand by supporting political candidates who are champions for a care agenda. States can be a laboratory for federal policy. Hawai'i passed a family caregiver benefit program in 2017. Maine has a ballot initiative called “Home Care for All” in November.

Find out more:

Ai-Jen Poo is the Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and the Co-Director of Caring Across Generations.

Mar 10, 2018
Andrea Miller (Part 2)

Andrea Miller is the president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. We talk about the broad support among men for Roe vs. Wade, the Hyde Amendment, and the two most damaging misconceptions about abortions.

This interview belongs to a two-part episode in which we discuss the importance of reproductive rights and why we should engage with this issue for the general welfare of our communities. Listen to the first part here.

Men Are Supportive:

There is no huge gender gap in attitudes and opinions about support for Roe vs. Wade. Men are also outraged by laws that shame, pressure, and punish women who have decided to have an abortion. They care about health and safety, individual rights, and autonomy.

Hyde Amendment:

Federal government health coverage does not cover abortion care. This affects a wide range of women from those who work for the federal government or serve in the military to those who receive healthcare through Medicaid and Indian Health Services. The amendment is a rider, which means that it is attached to budget bills every year. We can demand that the rider not be put in.

Have a conversation and bust the myths:

In an environment where people don’t talk about abortions, damaging misconceptions and falsehoods are easy to spread and thus easy to believe. The real attitudes and public opinion are pro-choice. Access to abortion is important to the women who are a part of our daily lives.

Find out more:

Andrea Miller is the president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health and a nationally recognized expert in reproductive rights and women’s health for more than two decades.

Mar 06, 2018
Andrea Miller (Part 1)

Andrea Miller is the president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. We talk about the impact that reproductive legislation has in society and how it’s historically been affected by safety and public health concerns. 

This interview belongs to a two-part episode in which we discuss the importance of reproductive rights and why we should engage with this issue for the general welfare of our communities. Listen to the second part here.

Learn the Facts:

Polls show that 80% of the public supports safe, affordable, quality abortion care, as long as it is legal, which it is. The percentage of women who are already mothers and obtain an abortion is 59%. The highest abortion rate is among women who are 20 to 29 years old. A woman spends approximately 30 years of her life trying not to get pregnant. 
Say no to taboos:

Treat talking about reproductive rights and health like talking about healthcare issues that affects all families in our communities. One in four women have an abortion in their lifetime. Over 90% of poll respondents say that it should be supportive, safe, and informed by medically accurate information. 
Talk to your elected officials:

There is a divergence between policymakers and the public. Be informed about ballot initiatives to roll back rights and be engaged in the voting booth. Have a direct conversation with your elected representatives and communicate your priorities.


Find out more:

Andrea Miller is the president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health and a nationally recognized expert in reproductive rights and women’s health for more than two decades.

Mar 03, 2018
Joe Hartigan

Joe Hartigan has cracked the code on how to effect change. He is a retired NYC Fire Department lieutenant and community activist since 1995. His passion, dedication, and consistency over many years brought about ferry service for the residents of Rockaway, Queens. Every community would benefit from a fervent advocate like Joe. We can become advocates for our communities by focusing on specific issues, joining forces, and staying persistent.

Show Up:

Showing up and pushing the point helps you to stay focused and keep going. Planning meetings, community board meetings, and conferences are excellent opportunities to speak to officials, share your priorities, and demand accountability.

Use Your Passion:

Pick something that is important to you because not everybody is going to be as committed as you to show up consistently. Be willing to dip into your own pocket. Do your research and become an expert. Learn how others have achieved their civic goals.

Make Your Cause a Political Issue:

Push your civic agenda by highlighting its importance for your community’s citizens. With attention in local elections, there is more likely success for your issue to be addressed.

Find out more:

Joe Hartigan was the driving force behind getting ferry service from Rockaway to Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street, Pier 11. He is also been a tireless advocate for the revitalization of the Rockaway area after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the Jacob Riis Park in his community.

Feb 24, 2018
Roland Augustine

Roland Augustine is an art dealer, tireless activist, and active member at the Bard College Prison Initiative. We discuss the necessity of finding new ways of activism for social justice in our daily lives.

Be an Advocate:

Civic engagement means becoming an advocate for social equality and social justice. It can begin at the most basic level such as your town or school. You can give hands-on support and/or money to a cause that is important to you. Consistent and rigorous advocacy creates more knowledge and inspire change.

Art Matters:

The visual arts can effectively transform one’s thinking. There are many powerful works of art, from paintings to monuments, that serve as beautiful and potent reminders of inhumanity in our collective history.

Use your voice:

Our silence on the world’s humanitarian crises is deafening. Use your voice in your community to start a conversation about what we can do right now. Start with forwarding this podcast to your friends and family.

Find out more:

Roland Augustine is on the board of trustees at Bard College, where he is actively involved in the Bard Prison Initiative, as well as in supporting refugees at Bard College Berlin. He is also an active member of the Equal Justice Initiative in the US.

Feb 17, 2018
James Doty

James R. Doty, MD, is a neurosurgeon and clinical professor at Stanford University. He shows us how to shape our own lives and of those around us by reframing, practicing compassion, and living with an open heart.


Negative talk dominates our narrative. What we tell ourselves manifests in our lives. Positive talk is based on kindness towards oneself.  
Practice Compassion

When you change the way you look at the world, then the world changes the way it interacts with you. Accepting the reality of a situation means that we can be free of reacting with anger. We can be compassionate and kind. 
Live with an Open Heart

When we are kind and respectful, and treat every human being with dignity, people will bend over backwards to help us. The greatest gifts in life often come through painful events, which give us character, depth, wisdom, and insight.

Find out more:

James R. Doty, MD, is the founder of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. He is also the author of "Into the Magic Shop", a book about how we can change our lives by practicing compassion and mindfulness.

Feb 10, 2018
Richard Betts

Richard K. Betts, Ph.D, is the Director of the Saltzmann Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. We talk about how we can be meaningful stakeholders in foreign policy by voting and supporting political movements.

Vote & Support

We must use our power to vote and support political movements in order to activate fundamental change in our world.

Be an active volunteer in an organization

Historically, the United States has been a country of joiners in various organizations to promote solutions to public policy programs. People joined organizations and devoted their volunteered time in large numbers because it is one of the basic ways in which people indirectly affect bigger issues that they don't feel much direct control over. Don’t take it for granted!

Demand and create a more peaceful future

It's very damaging to the political process when people participate irresponsibly. Make the effort to learn enough to make responsible decisions. Read newspapers, inform yourself, and stay curious about what is going on.  Then vote for the candidate that comes closest to your point of view.

Find out more

Richard Betts is the Director of the Saltzmann Institute of War and Peace Studies, and the Director of the International Security Policy Program at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University in New York.

Feb 03, 2018
Matt Kalmans

Matt Kalmans is the CEO and co-founder of Applecart, a strategic political consultancy and lab. We discuss the power of voting, how social pressure can influence our actions, and the ways in which science and technology can help us understand our political behavior. 

Human communication is the strongest tool for high civic engagement

Most decisions we make on a day-to-day basis are based on what our friends and co-workers tell us. Real life conversations are deeply influental in our political behavior. Social pressure can bring about social change.

Voting is our political power!

Voting is our civic duty and is a matter of public record. Changing behavior from not-voting to voting continues in the long term. Higher voting turnout will lead to radically different people being voted into office. People who are not only solution-oriented, but will also be a better representative of us as a society!

We respond to social pressure for civic duty

People respond to social pressure for higher civic engagement and voter participation. Voting is understood to be a social good, and studies have shown that we respond to social pressure for higher civic engagement and voter participation.

Find out more

Matt Kalmans is the CEO and co-founder of Appelcart, a strategic political consultancy and lab that aggregates and processes publicly available online and off-line data with the goal to redefine how political organisations mobilize voters, how nonprofit organisations fundraise or how advocacy groups lobbies elected their officials.

Jan 27, 2018
Bernard Harcourt

Bernard Harcourt is an author, lawyer, and critical theorist. In our conversation, we discover that civic engagement is a learned skill, the power of collective action, and the importance of remembering our truths and values.

Voting is a learned skill 

A study showed that children who experienced the voting process or political conversations with their parents showed more civic engagement. It's a skill that can be learned and should be promoted. Children and young people should learn that they can, how, and where to participate. Civic engagement is a fun, interesting, and important activity.

Civic engagement is our daily bread 

Speak with others about political questions and social justice issues. Communicate with a representative or senator -- even if it’s not your own -- and share what we are thinking will influence the way they engage in debates. Writing reflections and thoughts about the political situation in local newspapers or online is another way to engage. And remember to vote. Every vote counts!

Take a step back and remember your truth 

Once a day, try to center yourself and go through your comments and thoughts of the day. "Did I say the things that i believe in?" Take a step back and determine what is important, what your values and ethical beliefs are. Then recalibrate life, work, and personal communications in order to reflect your values. It's an important, challenging, and time-consuming process.

Find out more

Bernard E. Harcourt is an author, justice advocate, and critical theorist specialized in social and political theory, the sociology of punishment, and penal law and procedure. He is the Executive Director of the Eric H. Holder Initiative for Civil and Political Rights, and the founding director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought at Columbia University.


Jan 20, 2018
Premier Trailer

A sneak peak of the first episode of Future Hindsight — Bernard Harcourt discusses why and how civic engagement matters.

Jan 18, 2018
Future Hindsight Trailer

The Future Hindsight podcast launched on January 20, 2018. Join us for our premier episode where we interview Bernard Harcourt to speak about civic engagement and The Holder Initiative.

Jan 08, 2018