Around the Institute

David Brooks Joins the Institute

June 4, 2018  • Institute Staff

“What we see is a society riven by valleys and ravines and division,” New York Times columnist David Brooks said before an audience of Institute employees. “The people in this organization happen to be in the bridge-building business.” And now he is, too. Brooks is joining the Institute to head a new initiative aimed at understanding and reducing the growing fragmentation and alienation across the United States. He highlighted the work several Institute programs are already doing on the ground: the Community Strategies Group equips local leaders in rural regions; the Center for Native American Youth tackles the unique challenges facing young Native people; The Bridge explores race, identity, and inclusion; the Citizenship and American Identity Program focuses on the idea of vibrant citizenship; and the Aspen Challenge asks students to solve their communities’ toughest problems. Brooks will spearhead new workshops across America to help find commonalities and to uplift those working hard for positive change. Institute CEO Dan Porterfield praised Brooks’s commitment to Aspen’s core mission. “How can we as an organization contribute to the restoration of a sense of togetherness, national hope, and practical optimism?” he asked. “David Brooks is going to work with all of us to make a difference for America.” Given the divisive state of the country, it’s not an easy road—but it’s one Brooks is prepared for. “The core problem is a crisis of social solidarity, a crisis of fragmentation,” Brooks, who will continue to write his Times column, said. “What’s the purpose of our country? What is the thing that unites us?”