Always thought-provoking, often prescient, each issue of The WQ takes a deep and satisfying dive into a single topic or theme that is shaping our world, presenting a compelling range of angles, voices, and visuals.
Water in a World of Conflict
Water is essential to life. But there’s increasingly too little—or too much—of it. Human beings aren’t helping. We make it dirty, and fight bitterly over it. Can our most precious resource be renewed to create a more healthy and peaceful world?
The New Landscape in Space
Fifty Earth years have elapsed since Neil Armstrong became the first person to tread on the lunar surface. Today, space is not the final frontier it used to be, but an evolving landscape where security, technology, commerce, and human ambition cross paths and collide.
The Fate of the International Order
With allegiances and assurances challenged by nationalism, the institutions of the liberal world order are under pressure. Is now the time to rally behind them or rethink them? On the Wilson Center’s 50th anniversary, we explore multilateralism – a cornerstone of President Wilson’s foreign policy legacy – at a moment of truth.
The Grinding Gears of North America
The uncertain fate of NAFTA and President Trump’s trade wars are testing the bonds of the North American continent. From Iowa’s cornfields to Mexico’s factories, and from trust in Canada to strategy in China, these are stories of profits and losses that go beyond the balance sheet.
Living with Artificial Intelligence
Humans created AI. Now humanity must learn how to live with it. With the potential to upend sectors from law enforcement to labor and to reshape relations both international and interpersonal, this is not just technology. It’s the start of the algorithmic age.
The Disinformation Age
Modern media-consumers are the civilians in a messaging warzone, where nefarious aims and “fake news” (actual or claimed) battle with verified reporting and facts. From the newsroom of The New York Times to a jail cell in Azerbaijan, these are stories of ramifications and responses in our disinformation age.
Into the Arctic
No longer blockaded by impenetrable ice, the Arctic of today is a hotspot of environmental, cultural, economic, and geopolitical dynamics. Welcome to the modern, global Arctic – a region experiencing unprecedented change.
Trump and a Watching World
Allies and adversaries of the United States, and the countries in between, were fixated on the election of Donald Trump and the early days of his presidency. Consider these voices from six key countries and what their reactions say about the U.S. – and about themselves.
After the Storm in U.S.-Mexico Relations
The relationship between Mexico and the United States is facing its most severe test in decades. Although a new tone and new ideas are needed, the economic, political and security fundamentals matter more than ever.
The Lasting Legacy of the Cold War
As we enter a new cycle of tension between two of the world’s great powers, we look back 25 years later with renewed awareness of the reverberations and impact of the Cold War.
The Decline of the American Middle Class
After more than four decades, the American middle class is no longer the nation’s economic majority. What is the impact on the American identity and how are Americans coping?
Looking Back | Moving Forward
Even as new technologies help people come together to cope with current problems, the lessons of a less-connected past can give us vital perspectives on the challenges that remain with us today.
The Post-Obama World
The world has changed, sometime significantly, during Barack Obama’s presidency — if not always by design. As we enter President Obama’s final year in office, how should we think of these changes? What challenges merit our consideration? What is next for the great American experiment?
Change has many forms, whether physical relocation, the reordering of societies, or the intimate transformations of identity. It is a fundamental part of the human experience. Here, we survey the transitions — small, profound, sometimes revelatory — that shape our world and the people in it.
Coming Together, Coming Apart
We live in an “age of connection,” which is to say what, exactly? In the last twenty years, globalization and technological advances have improved the quality of life for many and given rise to voices traditionally shut out. It has also contributed to inequality, insecurity, and a creeping sense of instability.
Tocqueville wrote that the "greatness of America lies… in her ability to repair her faults." With a renewed national discussion on the faultlines of race, class, identity, and culture, we look inward. How do we assess the state of life in America?
The Shadow of the Great Wars
World Wars I and II came to transform every aspect of life in nearly every corner of the planet. Now, 100 years since the start of WWI and 75 years since the end of WWII, as public memory of the great wars begins to fade, we look at their lasting impact and ponder the future of their memory.
1989 and the Birth of the Modern World
Revolutions — be they political, social, technological, or cultural — swept the world in 1989. From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the protests at Tiananmen Square; from the deaths of Ayatollah Khomeini and Emperor Hirohito to the birth of the world wide web and launch of GPS.
Twenty-five years later, we look back at the impact of 1989, and the modern era it created.
As the U.S. prepares to withdraw from the longest war in its history, a look at the lives changed, promises made, and ideas shaped by war in Afghanistan.
Four Decades of Classic Essays
As we move to a new format, some of the classic essays we have published.
Where Have All The Jobs Gone?
A chronically bleak job market is breeding unease in a country where economic gloom is rare.
The American Quest for Redemption
In a nation born with a sense that it had a redemptive mission in the world, the urge to take what is bad and turn it into something good often turns obsessively inward. The results can be surprising.
Is Democracy Worth It?
In the sobering aftermath of the Arab Spring, old questions about the pursuit of political freedom have come into fresh focus. Are the risks too great? Is the time too soon?
Will India Win?
India now rivals China as a model for the world’s developing nations. But its recent stumbles have raised doubts about whether it will demonstrate the superiority of the democratic path to development.
Twelve years into a new century, a kind of grimness pervades the United States. Is it just the post-crisis hangover of a stagnant job market, or have the era's upheavals and uncertainties, at home and abroad, changed something fundamental?
The Age of Connection
Technology is making it as easy to keep in touch with someone on the other side of the world as it is with a next-door neighbor. Social networks bring news and tidbits from far and wide, sometimes with startling results. But is technology really increasing understanding between people? Between nations?
Lessons of the Great Depression
The Great Depression has long been regarded as a one-off economic event, so catastrophic that, with the preventive measures now in place, it could never be repeated. Today, as we grapple with a years-long global economic downturn whose ultimate contours remain unknown, the Depression is increasingly relevant to the present.
America's Schools: 4 Big Questions
Much ink has been spilled in the last several decades over the issue of what to do about America's struggling schools. The nation has made only halting progress in public education, but a handful of key questions have come into focus.
A Changing Middle East
Since this spring’s eruption of demands for change in the Arab world, uncertainty reigns everywhere. In some countries, long-ruling autocrats still fight viciously for power, while in others, leaders scramble to reach a new accommodation with their suddenly rebellious people. Egyptians and Tunisians, meanwhile, struggle to make good on the promise of democracy. Where did this wave of change come from? And where is it going?
The City Bounces Back: Four Portraits
For decades, the news from cities was all bad. But today, cities are on the rebound. They are seen as idea labs, exciting places to live, and a shopping alternative to suburban malls, with challenges that linger but do not overwhelm the future.
Crime and Punishment
Seven million Americans are in prison or on probation or parole. Crime is down, but state prison budgets have ballooned. A new war on crime must focus on reducing repeat offenses by ex-inmates and steering more young people away from crime.
What If China Fails?
It seems almost inconceivable that Asia’s rising giant could stumble badly, but to many China specialists that appears to be an ever present prospect. Should we cheer if indeed China falters?
Conflict often puts Israel at the world’s center stage, but the country’s inner life tends to go unexamined. In addition to the hostility of its neighbors, it is grappling with political gridlock and a changing population, even as it enjoys a vibrant democracy and overachieving economy.
The Entrepreneurial Edge
For 30 years, the United States has ridden a spectacular wave of technology-based entrepreneurship. Now, with economic lethargy at home and rising challenges abroad, can the wave be sustained?
The Arab Tomorrow
Decades of drift have brought the Arab world to the edge of disaster. Entrenched regimes stifle reform, while oil, Islam, and social discontent mix in explosive combinations. Change is coming. The question is, who will lead it?
The Future of the Book
As newspapers shutter, publishing houses consolidate, and print declines, what is the future of the book? Digital publishing makes ideas accessible to more readers (and writers) than ever before, but at what cost?
Thrift: The Double-Edged Virtue
Any solution to the global economic crisis will require a thriftier America and, paradoxically, a less thrifty Asia. A dose of economic sobriety may be just what the United States needs, but a difficult global rebalancing lies ahead as spendthrift Americans and the prodigious savers of Asia adjust to new realities.
Decline or Renewal?
The epochal collapse on Wall Street has sent a tornado of destruction ripping through America’s economy—and its self-confidence. Is American-style capitalism finished? Will the world ever accept U.S. leadership again? What must America do to recover?
Robots at War
A new way of war is on the horizon. Already, robots and drones are replacing human pilots and foot soldiers in some roles, and in the future they will take over many more. The benefits of removing human soldiers from harm’s way are obvious. But there’s a price to pay when a society can wage war by remote control.
The Glory and the Folly
Campaign 2008 has stirred old discontents about politics. What’s wrong with American democracy? Is the problem ill-informed voters who are buffaloed by attack ads and political ephemera, or is it that elections don’t give adequate voice to the popular will? Or does a long view reveal that the American system works pretty well after all?
Saving the World (Some Restrictions Apply)
Never has the humanitarian impulse been stronger. From Darfur to Myanmar, every crisis elicits global compassion and offers of assistance. But while today’s many eager helping hands are accomplishing a great deal, they must move with care, for even the most high-minded aid can sometimes do a lot of harm.
Backbone: Infrastructure for America's Future
Jammed highways, chronic brownouts, and other cracks in the national infrastructure have some people dreaming of an old-fashioned public-works bonanza. But building tomorrow’s infrastructure will pose larger political and technological challenges than ever before—with potential payoffs to match.
The Coming Revolution in Africa
Let’s celebrate for a moment the great victory that’s being won over poverty in the developing world, where the share of the population living on less than $1 a day tumbled from 40% to 18% between 1981 and 2004. That remarkable achievement also serves to remind us how far there is to go from $1 a day, how many have been left behind, and how little billions of dollars in foreign aid from the United States and others have had to do with the progress that has occurred.
Overdrive! Competition in American Life
More than ever, American life is a competitive sport. We jockey intensely for jobs, dates, admission to the college of our dreams, and even little resumé builders for our five-year-olds. Our authors examine the rewards and the costs of always playing to win.