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The Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at the George Washington University is the nation's leading center for communitarian policy research and is a research institute dedicated to finding constructive solutions to social problems through morally informed policy analysis and moral dialogue.

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Our Latest Research and Writing

Should We Go Back to the Moon?

Today marks 45 years since Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, taking "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Overall, 12 American astronauts have walked on the lunar landscape, the last – Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt – doing so in 1972.

The Communitarian Foreign Policy of Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni’s communitarian perspective offers a comprehensive approach to international affairs in addition to offering guidance for domestic policy. His argument that a focus on traditional “realist” concerns for a nation’s security and interests (“security first”), combined with a dialogue over competing moral imperatives, is more likely to lead to the emergence of an idealist end state--a sustainable international community. His emphasis on gradualism--of breaking apart complex policy goals into small, discrete steps--comes from his assessment that this is a better way of promoting lasting change in the international system. His perspective does not fit neatly into any of the dominant U.S. foreign policy approaches, but his ideas have formed part of the foreign policy debate for the last fifty years.

Facebook's Experiment: Trivial Pursuit

The recent hullabaloo about the "experiment" Facebook conducted for one week, in which it scrambled the newsfeed of some of its customers to see if the differences would make them happier, says much more about us than about Facebook. It shows that we would much rather deal with a new scandal, however trivial, rather than face deep, long standing flaws of our whole social system.

Treating Rationality as a Continuous Variable

Behavioral Economics has demonstrated that “people” (implying all) are unable to act as strong definitions of rationality assume. Their cognitive limitations are “hard wired”. However Behavioral Economics’ own data show that important segments of the population find “the” rational answer to choices posed to them. How do these findings square with the thesis that limitations are hard wired and universal? And, more attention should be paid to the extent to which various people deviate from the rational choice, and—whether training can improve performance despite the claim that flaws are hard wired.

The Cantonization of Iraq

The public debate about the future of Iraq has locked on two options -- partition along confessional-ethnic lines or a unity government. Both proposals have problems. Partition would create several hostile mini-states that are likely to war with each other. A unity government would give Sunnis and Kurds enough of a voice -- and share of the spoils -- to satisfy their expectations, but is not likely to come about. Iraq would be better served, and those who cajole it would be wise to promote, strong autonomy for the country's 19 provinces.

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