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California 100

California 100, a new research and policy initiative incubated at the University of California and Stanford University, released today its third round of policy and future scenario reports focusing on the future of arts, culture, and entertainment; economic mobility, inequality, and workforce; and education in the Golden State. The reports examine the historical origins and current developments in these policy domains, while proposing innovative ideas that can propel California toward an inclusive, sustainable and equitable future in the coming decades and century.

In March and April, California 100 released its first seven policy and scenario reports focused on the future of advanced technology, criminal justice reform, energy, health, housing, immigrant integration, and transportation.

“Our research partners continue to spark impactful conversations about California’s future and this work continues with the release of our arts, economic mobility and education reports,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, Executive Director of California 100. “We have been humbled by the response and the added value this world-class research is providing in policy and stakeholder circles at all levels, in all regions. We thank our research partners for their important work over the past year to bring these reports to life.” 

The research was led by Henry Brady, Director of Research for California 100 and former Dean at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. California 100 is partnering with Institute for the Future and 20 research centers across the state to examine future scenarios with the potential to shape California’s leadership in the coming century, with a focus on 15 priority research areas.

The Future of Arts, Culture, and Entertainment in California

Arts are important to California today and will be in the future. Artists create films, video games, poetry, literature, theater, music, visual art, dance, architecture, sleek technological tools, and creative goods and items that both shape and reflect our diverse culture over time. These practices and tools help us make sense of the ever changing world around us and connect us to the heritages both visible and invisible in our communities. Art inspires us to think in new and innovative ways all while adding beauty and meaning to our everyday experience. Art therapies can alleviate the symptoms of serious traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues, the applicability of which has vast potential reach. Self-expression through art can assist all people, including non-professional artists, with learning how to cope with trauma, grief, and loss. In critical roles as activists and community leaders, art helps give shape to community identity and voice to community concerns and aspirations. Will our leaders continue to prioritize the arts and will we make sure that all communities benefit? This report examines these questions and more.

“Artists today are a vital part of every community in our state, contributing broadly to our quality of life and making valuable contributions that make California a dynamic cultural and economic global leader. Arts have always been vital to California’s long-term future,” said Cinny Kennard, a California 100 Commissioner and executive director of the Annenberg Foundation. “When we look to the next century for arts, culture and entertainment, we must ensure they are never construed too narrowly. We need to think expansively, inclusively and with an eye towards continued innovation.  That is simply – the soul of California! This report begins an important conversation about where California should go, and lead, if we are serious about continuing to make arts integral to our state’s future success.”

The Future of Economic Mobility, Workforce, and Inequality

Residents and policymakers in California often cite an intriguing fact when discussing the state’s economy: California, if ranked as a nation, has the fifth largest economy in the world. But underneath these signs of prosperity, California is struggling with a pressing problem: The state exceeds all but five others in income inequality. Well-publicized housing problems and strained social safety net programs provide evidence of this inequality’s consequences. In 2021, housing costs and overwrought social safety net programs left at least 160,000 Californians without a home in the same state where just 2 percent of the population holds 20 percent of the state’s $6.3 trillion in net worth. Wages for the lowest earners have decreased in real terms while top earners continue to gain more wealth. As California experiences this observable increase in occupational, skill, and wage polarization– which includes growing income inequality—this polarization is the key obstacle for California policymakers, organizations, and educational institutions to address when considering how to promote economic mobility, equality, and a thriving workforce. What will the state’s path forward look like?

“California’s economic leaders should begin to consider how to create conditions that promote a stable balance between available workers, job openings, and the wages such jobs command in hopes of maintaining our perennial spot near the top of United States productivity rankings,” Daniel Sholler, Technology Management Department, University of California, Santa Barbara and member of Stanford’s California 100 research team. “Industry leaders will need to work together with unions and other organizations to create reward systems that make present-day technology contributions measurable and monetarily-quantifiable. California policymakers might then examine these systems so that they can complement current legislative practices, such as limiting companies’ use of punitive measures to increase productivity, with incentives for organizations to reward workers for their contributions to the technological innovations that will drive California’s economy of the future.” 

The Future of Education in California

The modern American Dream rests on the idea that education is the doorway to equal opportunity and social mobility. However, many have come to question this idea as researchers have found glaring inequities in academic achievement, college access and attainment, and life-long outcomes based on students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, race and ethnicity, and geographic location. State and federal lawmakers have acknowledged these gaps and have attempted to ‘level the playing field’ by injecting new and targeted resources and designing intervention policies to help students reach broader economic and democratic goals.

While many recent policy efforts have attempted to address student equity, they have also attempted to meet the demands of a changing economy. Advanced technological changes are beginning to take root across a range of industries in the U.S. that will require students to acquire 21st century skills for a transforming labor market. As the birthplace and incubator of innovations in automation and artificial intelligence, California must meet the challenges of this pivotal and historic moment to create a skilled workforce capable of developing and implementing this new infrastructure. 

“It is no secret that California’s public education system has been stress-tested by the pandemic with trends like decreasing enrollment and teacher turnover taking root across the state. This on top of broader changes in the economy that demand 21st century learning and skills has raised important questions about the sustainability of traditional public education in the state,” said Erin Heys with the Berkeley Institute for Young Americans and one of the authors of the California 100 Future of Education Policy and Scenario Report. “As the state sits at the crossroads of change, we encourage Californians to think carefully about what reforms may be necessary to sustain the state’s public education system in the years ahead. What might the future look like if traditional public education fades into the past–does this risk compromising student equity, education quality, and the democratic purposes of education–and is that a risk worth taking?”

From Research to Action: The California 100 Roadmap

These California 100 reports on policies and future scenarios are the first step in a multi-stage process that is designed to inspire and engage Californians—from a variety of sectors and all walks of life—to build a stronger future. In the summer of 2022, California 100 expert and intergenerational Commission will conduct a series of listening sessions throughout the state, to solicit feedback on the ideas generated by our research and to generate additional big and bold ideas for consideration by public and private agencies, as well as by everyday Californians. Insights will also be generated from the policy innovation projects throughout the state that cover a variety of topics, and our deep engagement on questions of science and technology as they relate to a variety of issues, including transportation and urban planning.

In early 2023, the initiative will take these various policy ideas and scenarios, and engage in a process of deliberative democracy featuring a representative cross-section of California residents. The goal of this deliberative exercise is to understand the conditions under which Californians from all backgrounds can come to agreement on the long-term challenges facing the state and, importantly, the kind of bold and visionary solutions we need to put the state on a stronger trajectory for the next century.

California 100 will also be engaging intentionally with young Californians, who have the most to gain or lose in the coming century. The team members will engage young people throughout the state, including in high school and college settings, and will organize a statewide youth summit that will produce a manifesto for the future of California.

Finally, in Winter and Spring 2023, the commission will draft a vision and strategy document for the future of California, based on briefing materials that build on insights from the various streams of work. California 100 will then launch a culminating event in early summer 2023 that serves as the formal launch of the vision and strategy document and, importantly, also brings together leaders and partners from our various streams of work and prior engagement. This event will: 1) showcase the pressing need for California to prioritize long-term futures, 2) build an ambitious yet achievable vision and strategy that are grounded in rigorous research and community engagement, and 3) inspire others to do the same, providing tools that a variety of partners (including policymakers, government agency officials, business leaders, activists, researchers, and next-gen leaders from various sectors) can use to build their own aspirational visions and strategies for California’s long-term success.