Panelists on the second plenary discussed workforce dynamics. Speakers
delved into financial instability among today’s middle class;
infrastructure investment as a way to increase opportunities for all
Americans; social inclusion, specifically the use of education and
employment policies to expand the middle class; and the importance of
economic, personal finance and entrepreneurship education.
The last panel of the day highlighted the role of innovation in
developing policy solutions. Participants engaged in a thoughtful
discussion around state initiatives addressing middle class challenges;
moving from policy to practice in implementing ideas; programs that
offer free tuition to promote college attainment; and practices that
promote civic engagement among students.
Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist at the
Washington Center for Equitable Growth and a member of the Biden
Institute’s policy board, delivered the luncheon address on economic
Instead of the assumption that a rising tide will lift all boats,
economists now know that it will lift some boats, while others will run
aground, Boushey said.
Inequality drags down the overall economy, she said, and changes the kinds of policy recommendations that economists make.
At the conclusion of the day’s final panel discussion, Dan Rich,
professor of public policy at UD, offered his answer to the Biden
Challenge. Noting that more than half of the discussion at the
conference appeared to involve education, Rich proposed “universal,
lifelong education,” from early childhood through retraining adults as
needed when job markets change.
The prosperity and growth of the middle class that occurred after
World War II didn’t just happen but resulted from massive public
investment, said Rich.
“We did it once, and we can do it again,” he said.
More about the Biden Challenge
Biden originally issued his challenge to find ways to revitalize the
middle class when he spoke last year at the NASPAA conference in
The Biden Institute and School of Public Policy and Administration
organized the Sept. 28 conference and idea exchange as a way to generate
ideas for Biden and others to consider. After Assanis welcomed the
attendees, SPPA Director Maria Aristigueta, the Charles P. Messick Chair
in Public Administration, introduced Biden.
Some of the papers presented will be published in a special issue of
the journal Public Integrity Symposium. The Biden Challenge will also be
highlighted at upcoming conferences of NASPAA, the National Academy of
Public Administration and the American Society for Public
Updates and more information will be posted on the websites of the Biden Institute and the School of Public Policy and Administration.
About the Biden Institute at UD
Led by its founding chair, former Vice President Joe Biden,
the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware's School of Public
Policy and Administration is a research and policy center working to
bring together the sharpest minds and the most powerful voices to
influence, shape and solve the most pressing domestic policy problems
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Evan Krape