In addition to facilitating research agendas that awaken the nation to the political underpinnings of growing inequality, we aim to spark fresh thinking about policies for restoring the historic link between democratic governance and improved well-being. We aim to do this by creating a space for working groups of top scholars across various fields to generate ideas and collaborative projects, by bringing key civic leaders and policymakers to Yale to facilitate discussions around inequality, and by encouraging new research developments.
First, I-CSI supports rotating Research Working Groups on Inequality and American politics (RWGI), comprised of up to two dozen faculty fellows from within and outside Yale who come to I-CSI during the academic year to work on a specific project that advances how we measure, understand, and/or intervene in inequality. The projects we support are wide-ranging yet adhere to the center’s broad goal of promoting research on the political sources and consequences of inequality. The faculty fellows are drawn from at least three fields and ideally not currently working together.
Each invited group focuses on one thematic module and meets several times during the year. At the initial meeting, each fellow circulates their boldest idea related to the module through an “ideas brief” of no more than three pages. The group collectively vets each idea and brainstorms possible directions. Based on a series of collaborations and discussions, the ideas briefs develop into a set of creative policy proposals, individual and collaborative research articles, grant proposals, and/or data collection that push the field to new heights. The idea briefs are meant to be bold, “outside the box” interventions that radically move how we think about inequality and its solutions. Rather than focusing on polished research, the working group sessions are intended to advance ideas that are more undeveloped, untested, and even controversial, but that have the potential to be ground-breaking, pushing creative ideas concerning inequality into scholarly and public discussion, and ultimately, setting the agenda for future research and policy proposals.
Second, we bring in 2-3 Visiting Fellows a year. While the research working groups consist of outside academics, the Visiting Fellows are made up of prominent, high-profile leaders: government officials, their staff members, advocates, or journalists. Visiting Fellows come to Yale several times throughout the year to engage with faculty and students about the intersection of inequality and major features of American civic life. Further, the Visiting Fellows participate in and occasionally lead public events open to the larger Yale community. Throughout the year, the fellows present their initiatives, participate in the intellectual life of the center, meet with center affiliates, lead discussion at I-CSI dinners, and give 1-2 public lectures (or deliver lectures in inequality courses).
Third, I-CSI invites a critical mass of contributors from within and beyond Yale to produce research papers, reports, trend analysis, policy briefs, thought pieces, and other media throughout the year.
Fourth, I-CSI provides new opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to do research on inequality through Seeds of Inequality (seed grants) to pursue ambitious research and support programming related to inequality on campus.