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Press release: The Next System Project calls for national discussion on systemic crisis and alternatives


March 31st, Washington, D.C. — Co-chaired by political economist and historian Gar Alperovitz and leading environmental activist and former presidential advisor James Gustave Speth, The Next System Project, launching today, is a major new program of The Democracy Collaborative, a national leader in the development of innovative strategies to rebuild community and democratize ownership of the economy.

Signalling the need for a serious national conversation about the deep long-term challenges facing the United States, including urgent needs to address compounding wealth inequality, avert looming environmental disaster, rebuild democratic governance, and undo persistent racism and discrimination, The Next System Project will create a space for activists, scholars, business leaders, and community development advocates to discuss and debate bold solutions capable of addressing these problems at scale.   

More than 350 key institutional, academic, and community leaders have joined Gar Alperovitz and Gus Speth to launch this project by endorsing a statement of its aims, including:

  • Paul Adler, President, Academy of Management

  • Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

  • Joseph Blasi, J. Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University

  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink

  • Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics Emeritus, MIT

  • Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America

  • Representative John James Conyers, Jr., Thirteenth District, Michigan (D)

  • Barbara Ehrenreich, Author

  • Daniel Ellsberg, Author, Whistleblower

  • Nancy Fraser, Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Politics and Philosophy, New School for Social Research

  • Anna Galland, Executive Director, Civic Action

  • Leo Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers

  • Danny Glover, Actor, Social Activist

  • Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs With Justice

  • Seymour Hersh, Journalist

  • Gerald Hudson, International Executive Vice President, SEIU

  • Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

  • Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, Harvard University, 2012-2013 President, American Political Science Association

  • Heather McGhee, President, Demos

  • Lawrence Mishel, President, Economic Policy Institute

  • Bill McKibben, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor,

  • Ralph Nader, Consumer Advocate, Author, Former Presidential Candidate

  • David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Oberlin College

  • Carol Pateman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science, UCLA

  • Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

  • Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley

  • Burton Richter, Nobel Laureate (Physics 1976) Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

  • Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University

  • Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Co-Chair, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University

  • Oliver Stone, Academy Award-winning Filmmaker

  • Gerald Torres, Jane M.G. Foster Professor, Cornell University Law School

  • Timothy E. Wirth, Vice Chair, United Nations Foundation  and Better World Fund

  • Erik Olin Wright, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2012-2013 President, American Sociological Association

The statement insists that small solutions and incremental reforms may not do enough to address the key problems we face:  “The challenging realities of growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. […] We have fundamental problems because of fundamental flaws in our economic and political system.”

But while emphasizing the depths of systemic crisis, the statement also looks towards the possibility of systemic solutions: “The good news is that the inability of traditional politics and policies to address fundamental challenges has fueled an extraordinary amount of experimentation in communities across the United States [and] an increasing number of sophisticated and thoughtful proposals for transformative change. Together these developments suggest that it is possible to build a new and better America beyond the failed systems of the past and present.”

The full statement and complete list of signatories can be found at, along with a video highlighting some of the voices endorsing the statement and shaping the project, and an initial report from the project leadership exploring the question of system transformation in greater detail.  


About Gar Alperovitz

Gar Alperovitz is Co-Chair of the Next System Project, former Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of  Maryland, and Co-Founder of the Democracy Collaborative, an organization devoted to developing community wealth-building approaches to local and national democratic reconstruction. He is a former Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge and the Institute of Politics at Harvard.

About James Gustave Speth

James Gustave “Gus” Speth is Co-Chair of the Next System Project, board member of the New Economy Coalition, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, and Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. He was Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy at Yale where he served as Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies from 1999 to 2009.


To learn more about The Next System Project, contact Executive Director Joe Guinan at

For interview requests with the project co-chairs or other media requests, contact John Duda at or via phone at (202) 559-1473 x102.


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