‘Innovating the Future’ explores ways to improve society

As our nation – and the world – continue changing more and more rapidly, how can we make sure that we are changing for the better?

New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter (pictured) hosts “Innovating the Future” Friday nights at 7:30 p.m. on Arizona PBS to tackle these issues. The program is part of a partnership between Arizona State University and New America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, that highlights stories about blending technology and public policy to improve America’s future.

The show delves into ways that education, sports, innovations and open dialogue can be used to shape a better community, country and world. Each week, Slaughter will interview experts to learn more about complex issues and possible solutions aimed at improving America.

“America is renewing itself – creating new spaces out of old buildings in downtowns across the country, retrofitting and reinventing factories, farms, families, transportation, schools, and in the case of Arizona State University, higher education,” Slaughter said.

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Guests for the 19-episode season of “Innovating the Future” include New York Times columnist David Brooks, ASU professor and former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., journalist and author James Fallows, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former Obama senior staff member Cecilia Muñoz and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, among others.

Arizona PBS CEO Christopher Callahan, dean of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said “Innovating the Future” underscores ASU’s mission to improve critical social, technical, cultural and environment issues facing communities.

“We’re thrilled to be providing our viewers with a new kind of public affairs show that confronts the challenges and opportunities in our society head-on,” Callahan said. “We hope ‘Innovating the Future’ adds to the public discourse in finding solutions to some of our country’s most critical issues.”

Feb. 8

Atlantic correspondent James Fallows and his wife, Deborah, discuss their new book, “Our Towns.” The book serves as an inspiration for the show, shining a light on the Americans working to rebuild their communities. As Jim is a trained pilot, the two took a small plane to small towns across the country. They’ll share stories of local leaders solving problems. Education leaders in a town in Georgia, for instance, helped establish a new kind of curriculum at their high school to ensure that more students learn a useful trade by the they leave — part of a career and technical education revolution across the country. Or how the residents of a town in West Virginia banded together to save the local library.

Feb. 15

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal talks about leadership. McChrystal, who led U.S. Special Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote a book, “Leaders: Myth and Reality,” in which he pairs historical leaders to show a specific situation around the leader is often as important as the individual themselves. The two discuss McChrystal’s changed understanding of the leadership of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee that led McChrystal to reassess both Lee’s symbolism and his legacy. The two also discuss how the lessons of historical leaders such as Harriet Tubman, Margaret Thatcher and Walt Disney can help future leaders make better decisions.

Feb. 22

New York Times Magazine correspondent Nikole Hannah-Jones talks about the potential for integration to address the challenges of America’s inequitable education system. Hannah-Jones relays her own story of sending her daughter to a segregated school and how that offered a window into larger questions all parents face. She explains that public education in the U.S. was originally envisioned as a common good — something to help create a shared sense of citizenship — and that the modern landscape of inequitable education opportunities violates that ideal. She offers a road map of how communities can revive that noble notion and get America back to its original vision of educating all citizens.

March 1

Former White House domestic policy advisor Cecilia Muñoz stops by to share her expertise on immigration. As Muñoz notes, the good news is “it’s not hard” to formulate the right immigration policy.” What’s hard, however, is the politics around creating a solution. The conversation steers toward how we got to this point and what it might take it to get us through it.

March 8

Peter Bergen, a CNN national security analyst who is also a professor of practice at Arizona State University, shares what communities can do to help prevent domestic terrorism. Bergen explains that in the 17 years after Sept. 11, perhaps the largest terrorist threat comes from so-called lone-wolf terror attacks. He explains what some communities are doing to prevent them and which communities have had the most success. He talks through what community leaders can to do prevent attacks without disrupting social cohesion.

March 15

Kenneth Shropshire, CEO of ASU’s Global Sport Institute, explores the role of sport in society, and how athletes, coaches and others in the sporting world are working to change their communities and the country. Shropshire, who has either been involved with or written about almost every major sports and society story of the past several decades, explains how involvement in sport for young women is a strong indicator of future leadership. Various changes have helped women build influence in sport, especially Title IX. They’ll also discuss the role that sport has played in addressing political and social change, from the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics to Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police violence.

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