One of the strategic priorities in the Academy’s 2018 strategic plan is to improve the impact of the Academy’s work and raise the visibility of the institution with external audiences. These audiences vary and have included policymakers at the federal, state, and local level; leaders in philanthropy, higher education, nonprofit organizations, and business; scholars and students; advocacy groups; professional groups and practitioners; and the public.
There are three ways in which Academy projects seek to have impact. One is by informing the debate or discussion. Measures of success in this area include reach (for example, website visits, publication downloads, and hard copies of publications distributed); earned media (such as citations, interviews, and op-eds); use of the project’s work in education or training; citations in legislative activity; references in scholarly publications and in meeting materials; briefings and events with key audiences; and testimonials.
A second way in which projects can be impactful is by supporting advocacy organizations and influential individuals who can advance the recommendations and solutions offered by Academy projects. Indicators of success include convenings that advance a project’s recommendations; advocacy organizations using or citing Academy work in their outreach to policymakers or other decision-makers; and endorsements of Academy recommendations with letters or calls-to-action.
A third way the Academy seeks to have impact is by helping catalyze the implementation of new policies, practices, programs, or investment. Impact in this area may be difficult to connect to the Academy’s work because it could take years to realize and may be the result of joint efforts by many contributors. Where appropriate, the Academy may be positioned to take a more direct role in incubating or piloting new initiatives or lining up a partner institution to do so.
What follows is an overview of how each program area is approaching impact and some highlights of project impact.
American Institutions, Society & the Public Good
The Commission on Reimagining Our Economy (CORE) released three products in fall 2023 and is beginning an outreach phase that will continue through August 2024 to engage target audiences with those products: a photojournal, Faces of America: Getting By in Our Economy; a final report, Advancing a People-First Economy; and a county-level well-being dashboard: the CORE Score. Priority audiences include journalists, federal policymakers, and experts at relevant think tanks. The Academy has also convened a working group that will focus on the Commission’s recommendation to foster economic connectedness.
The Academy continued its extended follow-up on the final report of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century (OCP). Since the release in 2020, the report has contributed significantly to the public debate on democracy reform through extensive media coverage and as the topic of discussion in hundreds of events, briefings, meetings, and classes around the country. More than seventy champion organizations are working to advance the report’s recommendations. In addition, the report has helped to catalyze new legislation to support community civic bridgebuilding, improve government customer service, and enlarge the House of Representatives; new public funding for civic education and national service; new philanthropic investment in organizations working on reform and in building civic infrastructure; and new initiatives, such as the Trust for Civic Infrastructure and the More Perfect campaign. Since 2020, the report has been downloaded more than 27,000 times; over 20,000 copies of the English and Spanish language versions of the report have been distributed; and the report has more than 200,000 pageviews online. An OCP monthly newsletter, launched in 2021, has over 2,000 subscribers, and Academy organized OCP-related events have been attended by more than 5,000 people.
OCP continued to receive prominent coverage in the media in 2023, including a series of columns in The Washington Post by Commission Cochair Danielle Allen on renovating democracy that emphasized themes in the report and specific recommendations, such as enlarging the House of Representatives, implementing eighteen-year term limits for Supreme Court justices, and investing in civic education. Other media coverage about OCP included a segment on the PBS NewsHour in October that featured Danielle Allen with Commission member Judy Woodruff, and a column in The New York Times by Commission member Yuval Levin.
One important outcome in 2023 of this implementation work is a commitment from five major philanthropies to fund the Trust for Civic Infrastructure, an initiative recommended in OCP and further developed by an Academy working group. The Trust is expected to launch in 2024 with a three-to-five-year demonstration phase to test different approaches and partnerships with small town and rural communities to build civic infrastructure.
Another outcome of the OCP report is a follow-up publication on The Case for Enlarging the House of Representatives. Following its release, the authors and Academy staff engaged more than fifty House offices through individual briefings and events. Subsequently, Academy experts were invited by two congressional offices to provide input on draft legislation to enlarge the House of Representatives: Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s REAL House Act and Rep. Sean Casten’s Equal Voices Act.
For the Making Justic Accessible project, the outreach phase has focused on engaging three audiences: the philanthropic and nonprofit community to elevate civil justice as a funding priority and grow the civil justice ecosystem; congressional leaders to inform them of the project’s work and advance state and federal alignment on civil justice issues; and national civil justice institutions, leaders, and other stakeholders working on civil justice issues to develop the national strategy recommended in the Academy’s report, Civil Justice for All. The project convened five roundtable discussions with civil justice experts to explore ways to raise the visibility of civil justice issues with key audiences and identify financially sustainable models. Congressional outreach included engagement with the offices of members of the Access to Legal Aid Caucus, including Representatives Tom Emmer (R-MN), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), as well as meeting with several congressional offices to highlight state-level innovations in civil justice. This included briefings with the entire Arizona congressional delegation to share the Academy’s civil justice recommendations and connect the delegation with Stacy Jane, Director of the Innovation for Justice program at the University of Arizona and the University of Utah. Additional discussions are planned with congressional offices in Minnesota and Utah that would feature civil justice innovators in those states.
A new Commission on Opportunities After High School is just getting started. While staff and Commission leaders are refining the scope of the project, reviewing relevant research, and recruiting Commission members, questions about audience and impact are being addressed early on.
In June 2023, the Academy held the Higher Education Forum’s second annual convening since acquiring the program in 2022. This year’s topics included the future of work, artificial intelligence, speech on campus and beyond, the health of our communities, and maintaining diversity on campus. The Forum offers an opportunity to connect higher education leaders with the findings and recommendations of Academy projects. At the most recent convening, Ann Fudge, cochair of the Commission on Reimagining Our Economy, and Ben Vinson, a member of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, spoke about themes related to those projects, including the future of the workforce and strengthening democratic participation on campuses.
The Education program area also organized an exploratory meeting, “Leading for a Future of Higher Education Equity: Transforming Supreme Court Challenges into Opportunities for Positive Change,” to help higher education leaders plan for and respond to the Supreme Court decision overturning affirmative action in college admissions. The Academy will release a white paper summarizing the findings of the virtual and in-person convening. This resource will be distributed to leaders in higher education across the country working to strengthen diversity in the wake of Supreme Court’s decision.
Global Security & International Affairs
The Rethinking the Humanitarian Response to Violent Conflict project published an issue of Dædalus, “Delivering Humanitarian Health Services in Violent Conflicts,” in 2023. The release of the Dædalus volume included a video featuring the editors (and project cochairs) Jaime Sepúlveda, Jennifer Welsh, and Paul Wise, which was used for social media promotion. The Global Security & International Affairs program area organized three events with local partners in key cities to highlight some of the authors and themes in the Daedalus issue. The events were held in New York in collaboration with the International Peace Institute; in Mexico City, in partnership with El Colegio de México; and in London with Chatham House.
The Promoting Dialogue on Arms Control and Disarmament project continued its work to foster strategic and track II dialogues between U.S. and Chinese experts and between U.S. and Russian experts. In partnership with the Hoover Institution, the Academy convened a strategic dialogue in Vienna that included participants from the United States, Europe, Russia, and Ukraine to discuss arms control, nuclear security, and the broader European security architecture after the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The Academy also continued its collaboration with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, organizing a virtual track II dialogue with U.S. and Chinese experts, building on a 2019 in-person meeting, and laying the groundwork for a future in-person dialogue in China. Policymaker engagement for the project included briefings with congressional offices and staff at the State Department on the key takeaways from the Vienna dialogue, and a briefing on Iran’s nuclear program and regional stability. New publications on missile defense and space and strategic stability were distributed to targeted audiences and will be the topics of future briefings.
Deterrence & New Nuclear States, phase II of the project on Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age, released the edited volume, The Fragile Balance of Terror: Deterrence in the New Nuclear Age. The Academy organized several discussions with the volume’s authors, including a launch event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; a briefing for more than fifty congressional staff organized in partnership with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and Council for a Livable World; a book event at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation; an event held at the Academy, organized in partnership with the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; and a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.
The Humanities, Arts & Culture
The Humanities Indicators continue to be a valuable resource, equipping a range of audiences–journalists, researchers, university faculty and staff, philanthropists, policymakers, and leaders from public humanities institutions such as libraries, museums, and humanities councils–to answer questions about the state of the humanities. In 2023, the Humanities Indicators were cited more than fifty times in the national press as well as on numerous college and local news sites. Nathan Heller’s article in The New Yorker, “The End of the English Major,” featured the Indicators’ work and provoked debate in the media that led to additional coverage. Throughout 2023, the Humanities Indicators were cited in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Review of Books, Newsday, The Columbus Dispatch, Axios, India Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed. The Humanities Indicators were also cited by conservative outlets, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Fox News, Reason, and The Washington Times.
Science, Engineering & Technology
The Commission on Accelerating Climate Action released its final report, Forging Climate Solutions: How to Accelerate Action Across America, in October 2023 with two days of activities in Washington, D.C. The launch activities included a panel discussion with the Commission’s cochairs, an evening program with Academy members, a morning event with environmental NGOs, as well as briefings with congressional offices and federal agency staff. Congressional engagement included meetings with the offices of Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Sheldon Whitehouse (R-RI) and Representatives Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY). The launch activities kicked off an outreach phase for the Commission that will continue through June 2024. Given the diversity of the Commission’s members and their vision for whole-of-society action, the outreach phase will prioritize audiences that are on the fence or newer to committing to climate action and seek to bring together individuals and groups that are not already collaborating. Planned activities include additional briefings with key audiences, such as Congress, federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, the private sector, and environmental justice groups; conference speaking opportunities for Commission members; virtual events on specific report recommendations and themes; a new website with additional content, such as case studies; and media engagement.