Disenfranchisement, factionalism, economic and social inequality, political violence, strategic misinformation, and human suffering threaten global democracies. Trends within and outside the U.S. show democracies under siege and weakening. As democracies collapse, so do their foundational mores, including respect and human dignity, protection of rights and liberties, engagement and fair treatment of political opponents, and safeguards for marginalized populations. Moreover, such incapacities stifle responses to other societal threats, from climate change to pandemics.
This BDC proposal supports many activities in a diverse and decentralized interdisciplinary network of faculty directed toward building democratic communities. The BDC network works because of its shared norms and values that embrace inclusivity and convergence in various research approaches and that shape participant interactions toward a common lodestone of building better democratic communities. At the level encompassing the entirety of the BDC, the broad Collaborative is the umbrella entity that promotes the BDC’s vision, organizes BDC activities, works with CU’s Advancement Team in seeking donor gifts, supports and coordinates its Concentrations, and delivers quarterly and final reports. The six Concentrations focus on Global Democracies, Disinformation, Climate and Resilience, Joy of Self-Governing, Public Safety, and Computational Modeling Democracy.
While organizations have been pledging to foster diverse and inclusive workplaces for over 60 years, there has been little increase in managerial representation among people of color. during this timeframe. Furthermore, there has been little improvement in the gender wage gap, and the racial wage gap has been trending in the wrong direction in recent decades. A prevailing assumption is that women and people of color, who are underpaid and underrepresented relative to White men, predominantly bear the cost of inequality. We elucidate the economic benefits of equality, reframing the narrative from a minority issue to an employer issue and from cost avoidance to economic advantage to ignite progress toward parity. Our university-wide research team adopts a multilevel, cross-disciplinary approach to diversifying workplaces and engendering systems that foster success for diverse employees and their employers. Diversity critical mass goals—defined as ambitious diversity goals attained when groups have sufficient representation to become influential—are theorized to ignite change by disrupting complacency and stimulating momentum toward diverse representation. High schools and colleges are vital to the recruitment process and must meet the grand challenge of educating people of color in STEM, business, and other high-paying fields. Legislation incentivizes employers to diversify their workforces and fosters accountability for progressing toward equality. Finally, organizations are uniquely positioned to resolve inequality across demographic groups because organizations allocate the wages that determine individuals’ economic valuation.
Our data-driven approach quantifies the effects of wage and demographic equality on labor productivity, providing empirical support for the positive effects of equality on employers’ bottom line. By achieving critical mass goals, organizations should see a radical shift where cross-group relations foster a climate of inclusion that enhances firm performance.
In 2020, Colorado experienced record-breaking fires, which burned more than 500,000 acres of forest, equaling over half the area of Rhode Islandi. In the summer of 2021, a mudslide originating from the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar site left Interstate Highway 70 closed for two weeks, with an economic cost of one million dollars an hour. This was only one of the 25 road closures that this fire causedii. As climate change fuels larger and more severe wildfires, their impacts on our everyday lives and our longterm health grows.
Biodegradable Landscape Infrastructure Pods (BLIP) aims to tackle the grand challenge of climate change related to landscape restoration after forest fires. As forest fires increase in temperature and duration, they leave soil sterilized and devoid of nutrients for next generation regrowth, thus halting the natural lifecycle of the forestiii. Super-heated fires not only change the soil, but also disintegrate important root systems that maintain soil stability on sloped landscapes. So, in addition to leaving large burn scars across the landscape, forest fires cause mudslides and other large scale land erosion events. Despite the broad public awareness of this issue, institutional tree replanting efforts, which are often motivated by optics and politics, are rarely successful. A study in New Mexico and Arizona found that ponderosa pine replanting efforts offer an average success rate of only 25%iv. Similar efforts in India and Sri Lanka have resulted in even lower success rates of less than 10%.v Our research aims to increase the success rate of forest regeneration and improve soil stability on burn scar sites.