Discussion paper

Action and impact: discussion paper from the visit of Melody Barnes to Australia in February 2016

Economics Education Social change Comparative studies Social inequality Innovation Social mobility Australia United States of America

This discussion paper emerges from a series of events held by Per Capita with Melody Barnes in February 2016.

Melody Barnes served as Assistant to US President Obama and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council from 2009 to January 2012. Ms Barnes is now the Chair of the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions. Per Capita brought Ms Barnes to Australia for a series of events on building economic growth through social policy, cities and innovation, and insights into her community-based work at the White House.

The intention of this report is to capture the content and arguments of the events, and serve as a discussion paper for future Per Capita research. The issues raised at these events are some of the most important questions we are facing in our polities: what role can education play in addressing inequality; how can we build communities that are economically successful but inclusive? How can we build the innovative cities of the future? What role can education and skills training play in ensuring continued mass employment in an age of change? How can we address people’s disengagement from traditional politics, and what does the rise of populist candidates mean for the future of our democracies? These are the long-term issues facing not just the United States, but also Australia.

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