• Around the world and across the United States, unjust identity-group-based social stratification harms individuals and communities. To Black people and other people of color, to women, to immigrants, to indigenous peoples, and to many others with social identities deemed different from socially defined dominant groups, society offers less wealth, more discrimination, more violence, worse healthcare, fewer protections, and less economic, cultural, and political power. Social stratification and related belief systems — starting with race, racism, and racial resentment — prevent humane, just, moral decision making. They deter investments in common goods. They threaten democracy itself.

    Inequalities that formed over centuries cannot be undone with small ideas. Structural problems require transformational ideas grounded in rigorous research. The Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy advances research to understand structural inequalities and works to identify groundbreaking ways to promote equity. A premier cross-disciplinary hub, the Institute draws on faculty across The New School in New York City, which has long fostered innovative thinking about power, structure, design, politics, economics, and society. The Institute engages with researchers and practitioners, including community and business leaders, policymakers, philanthropists and journalists, across the nation and around the world. 

    How We Work

    Building relationships beyond academia. Research matters most when it’s useful to and used by practitioners. Through collaborations, researchers learn which research questions and approaches are most valuable to practitioners. Practitioners, in turn, gain access to new research, evidence, and perspectives which they can use to inform their work and make better decisions. As a convenor and supporter of partnerships and relationships, the Institute aims to connect researchers to leaders in civil society — members of community organizations, policymakers, workers groups, business leaders, philanthropists, journalists and activists — to take on society’s most difficult inequities. 

    Advancing knowledge, measurement, theory, and methodology. To be addressed effectively, problems must first be understood. Ways to measure progress must be identified. New theory must be developed, building on and critiquing past work. The Institute aims to house innovative research teams that will make new contributions to theory and methods, and to make measurements and release findings that can help everyone see inequity more clearly than ever before.

    Identifying, testing, and scaling transformative solutions. From Baby Bonds to a Federal Job Guarantee to innovations that have not yet been developed, the Institute supports imaginative, bold ideas to shift policy and practice so that government, business, and nonprofit entities can advance equity in large and measurable ways. As a research lab, the Institute will work to put these ideas on the public agenda — and work with partners on pilot projects, implementation, measurement, evaluation, and taking successes to scale.

    Fostering a new generation of scholars. Too much scholarship has pathologized inequity, blaming, for example, Black people or women for failing to take advantage of opportunities to which, in truth, they never actually had equal access. One reason for this is the deplorable lack of diversity among scholars, a problem compounded by inequities in power and resources in academic institutions. The Institute aims to support the success and empowerment of scholars, especially scholars who are Black, Latino, other people of color, women, indigenous people, or those who hold other social identities subordinated by dominant groups. Further, the Institute aims to be part of conversations about ways academic institutions that too often perpetuate and exacerbate inequalities can transform themselves into engines of equity.

    Entering its inaugural year in 2021, the Institute is building strategies and programs to produce research that promotes economic inclusion, civic engagement, and equity. The Institute will provide the intellectual and physical space to craft and advance innovative policies, strategies, and investments that break down restrictive hierarchies, empower people, and move society toward greater social equity. The work will involve fusing insights from multiple disciplines to improve our understanding of the causes, consequences, and remedies associated with racial, ethnic, gender and other forms of stratification in a host of domains including education, employment, criminal justice, health, housing, environment, asset accumulation, and other vital sectors across the regional, national, and international landscape. 


    We are grateful to the organizations below, which have generously provided financial support to the Institute and its research:

    • Bank of America
    • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
    • Chicago Community Trust
    • Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
    • JP Morgan Chase
    • The Kresge Foundation
    • Marguerite Casey Foundation
    • The Omidyar Network
    • Polk Brothers Foundation
    • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    • Robin Hood
    • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

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