In the US, the fight against climate change often looks more like a fight to achieve the public recognition that climate change is real. Flat out denial of science by the dominant strain of conservative politics and the reticence to take bold action on the part of moderates, combined with the self-interested, well-funded and short-sighted survivalist instinct of the fossil fuel industry, continues to hamper sustainable development in our country. We stagnate at home even as we attempt to export models for sustainable development to other parts of the world.
In our national culture, broadly speaking, we still uphold the rugged cowboy individual as the model for how to exist in the world. Recently, researchers at the University of Virginia pointed out the degree to which Americans’ individualism hindered our collective response to the coronavirus. Lately, science and individualism haven’t seemed able to get along.
A good cultural marker for this is country music. In the US, recent years have given us country songs like “Coal Keeps the Lights On” by Jimmy Rose (championing a phrase that has been used widely in the coal industry’s propaganda campaign) and “Coal Town” by Taylor Ray Holbrook (the music video for which was produced in partnership with the United Mine Workers of America). It is worth noting that these artists are rather marginal country artists, both little known and both hailing from Appalachia, but have taken on specific significance in the debate around the political and cultural value of coal. More widely popular country music artists, at least those that produce popular music that is marketed as “country,” eschew the specifically political in favor of a few main themes: booze, romance, and general patriotism (guns, religion, troops, sports, farming, hunting, the paterfamilias, etc.). The wildly popular band Florida Georgia Line, in their summer 2020 hit “I Love my Country”, exalts the use of styrofoam plates while rattling off a list of American stuff: “Barbecue, steak fries / styrofoam plate date night.” It seems that, regarding sustainability, American country music either takes a hard pro-fossil fuels stance, or nonchalantly implies approval of the status quo. As far as the market is concerned, apathy towards climate change reigns. This is not entirely surprising, given the political climate.
What is surprising is how the analogous genre in Mexico, música regional, compares. Many of the themes heard in contemporary American country music are still present, both the good (importance of family, romantic love), the bad (binge drinking, misogyny) and the more complicated (guns, dogmatic religion). Mexican country music is even starting to incorporate Latin hip-hop and pop into their music, similar to how bands like Florida Georgia Line imitate rap lyricism in their own vocals. This all makes sense; to paint with broad strokes, it’s safe to say that Mexican society and cowboy culture developed in a manner parallel to the development of their American counterparts, and pop musical trends, such as the increasing relevance of hip-hop forms across the boundaries of genre, are increasingly global phenomena. However, Mexican country music, despite its conservatism, finds it within itself to engage with climate change.
At approximately the same time Florida Georgia Line was working on “I Love my Country”, Edén Muñoz, the lead singer of the Mexican group Calibre50 (“50-Caliber”) was working with fellow artists Alfredo Olivas, la Arrolladora Banda el Limón (“the Irresistible Lemon Band”), Pancho Barraza and C-Kan on a song called “Corazón Verde” (“Green Heart”). The song amounts to an impassioned plea for the listener to become conscious of climate change, understand how it is detrimental to human society, and actually do something about it. Pancho Barraza sings: “Estamos cavando nuestra propia tumba / y no es por asustarlos, viene lo peor” (We are digging our own grave / and not to scare you, but the worst is yet to come”). He goes on: “Falta de conciencia y no es coincidencia / que todos los días haga más calor” (“[There is] lack of awareness, and it’s no coincidence / that every day it gets a little bit hotter”). Tough solutions are not proposed, just tough rhetoric about what is happening right now. The music video shows the artists planting trees (which is more symbolically important than it is effective as a long-term strategy). Still, it’s a fine start, at least rhetorically.
Perhaps most importantly, the artists express concern for future generations: “¿Para qué esperarnos? Limpiemos el mundo / y cuidemos la casa. O ya se preguntaron / a tus hijos y a los míos / ¿qué les vamos a dejar?” (“What are we waiting for? Let’s clean up the world and take care of our home. Or have you already asked yourselves what’s going to be left for your children and mine?”). In the words of the singers, recognizing and fighting climate change is an urgent civic duty. The fact that this urgency is absent from cultural representations of American patriotism is baffling.
I mention this song not to hold up Mexico as an exemplar of environmental or cultural sustainability, or as an example of a society that always leverages science to increase the public good. Certainly, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, Mexico has hardly stood out as successful in its response. What’s more, these artists don’t exactly have a blank check to claim the moral high ground on whatever topic they choose. The same artists that here sing about making cultural and political shifts to fight climate change also sing in a glorifying way about guns, corruption and cheating on their wives and partners. I make this comparison between American and Mexican country music to illustrate that, outside of the US, even politically conservative cultures and ideologies elsewhere pass the very low bar of urgently believing in science. It is a bar that the US needs to pass soon. Coal may “keep the lights on” for now, but it will eventually burn down the house.
Ashford King is a PhD student in Spanish and Portuguese at Princeton University. He is also a musician and poet. He is originally from Kentucky.
In 2013, a Liberian government official was recorded colluding with another high-ranking government official to embezzle public resources. On the tape, he was caught saying “you eat, I eat,” which signified an acceptance that the two would engage in personal enrichment at the public’s cost, without fear of consequences.
The Representative faced serious public backlash, but as with most cases involving top officials, there was no action. About two years later, the Representative’s daughter died from an asthma attack during Liberia’s Ebola crisis. The hospital could not treat her because they were overstretched by the pandemic. He sued the hospital for neglect and recklessness. This was the talk of the town. Ordinary Liberians thought his lawsuit should not be taken seriously because his allegedly corrupt acts had diverted resources from the health system.
While a case like this generates intense public disgust and debate, there are many layers of corruption in Liberia that are almost universally accepted. These cases are practically routine. For example, the Liberian police regularly stop taxis and private vehicles, and the driver reaches their hand out of the window for a handshake every time, exchanging bribe money in their palm. In most cases, public taxis don’t have the correct documents and these small bribes are less disruption than jail time.
Liberia is recovering from fourteen years of civil war and still trying to restore basic social norms. By the end of the war in 2003, corruption had permeated all layers of society, a by-product of a prolonged civil war that weakened government capacity to monitor and enforce rules, and a corroded social fabric that tolerated—and valorized—corruption. Often, paying bribes was more expedient than dealing with dysfunctional bureaucracies, and so bribes became normalized.
Generations of citizens have grown accustomed to believing that all public officials are corrupt. They tolerate instances of bribery in their daily lives, struggling to imagine a country where civil servants serve the public good over their own interests. Public officials, on the other hand, feel little pressure to pursue reform as long as citizens believe corruption to be an inseparable part of Liberian culture.
Corruption has hindered much needed reconstruction and development in Liberia. Large-scale development projects have stalled or sputtered out as significant portions of their funding has bled out to expensive contracts, salaries for non-working employees, and skimming by management.
Relation to SDGs
Implementing the United Nations’ (UN) ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires substantial public sector financing and strong government institutions. In low and middle income countries, where the bulk of these investments are needed, public sector institutions are usually resource-constrained. High levels of corruption and financial mismanagement significantly reduce public sector resources allocated to enhance the public good and to tackle big structural problems, making corruption one of the biggest impediments to achieving the SDGs. Corruption also undermines the institutional capacity of agencies that should be in the frontline of implementing programs to alleviate inequality and multiple forms of deprivation.
“Almost one in five firms worldwide report receiving at least one bribery payment request when engaged in regulatory or utility transactions.” – United Nations Sustainable Development
Recognizing that resource-skimming reduces the per-dollar impact of otherwise effective development programs, the SDG committee designed Goal 16 towards improving “peace, Justice, and strong institutions” across the world.
Implementing and monitoring partners have also taken note of the link between corruption and the development cycle. José Ugaz, Chairperson of Transparency International, stresses that “with corruption, there’s no sustainable development,” highlighting the inability of institutions that are riddled with leakage to deliver upon major development projects. Similarly, Transparency’s Advocacy Manager, Rukshana Nanayakkara, comments that “without sufficient, careful investment taking place in just and inclusive societies, development happens very slowly.” Even where development projects are implemented nominally, corruption and embezzlement can prevent them from reaching their intended level of impact.
An analogy of a road funded by public money goes a long way in explaining how corruption can hinder development. Suppose that in rural Liberia, six villages are not connected to the main transportation system, rendering both inward service delivery and outward participation in the economy difficult. An international aid agency has delivered to a Liberian transport official some millions of dollars to construct the road, and expedite the integration of these villages into the service and good economy. With 50% of funds lost to embezzlement, one can imagine three of the villages remaining unconnected entirely, reducing the public goods output of the project. More commonly, however, the road is built to all six villages – but with the use of poor construction materials due to lucrative service contracts and skimming, the road may last only a year. After a few short months, the villages are in need of development assistance once again.
Problems like these indeed kept the Liberian Port Authority from reopening for almost a decade, stymieing the post-war recovery of the entire national economy.
Integrity Idol’s Answer
Despite the omnipresence of corruption in Liberia, some organizations continue to think critically about attacking the core biases that enable it. One such organization, Accountability Lab, supports change-makers to develop and implement positive ideas for integrity in their communities, unleashing positive social and economic change. One of their flagship programs is Integrity Idol, which fights corruption by spotlighting non-corrupt civil servants to promote non-corrupt practices and encourage public confidence in governance. Integrity Idol began in 2014 in Nepal, spread to Liberia in 2015 after the end of the Ebola crisis, and has since spread to four other developing countries around the world. The program operates in Liberia as follows:
“Local teams of volunteers travel across their countries gathering nominations from citizens, hosting public forums and generating a national discourse on the need for public officials with integrity. The nominees are narrowed down to a final five in each country with the help of independent panels of experts.
“These finalists are then filmed and these episodes are shown on national television and played on the radio for a week, creating a national discussion offline and online. Citizens can vote for their favorites through SMS short-codes and through the website. The winner is crowned in a national ceremony in the capital.
“Integrity Idol celebrates individuals, but those that serve the public good. It provides an outlet for a national conversation in positive terms about the change we’d like to see and the people we would like to be working in government on our behalf.” –Integrity Idol website
What problems did Integrity Idol face?
Though Integrity Idol’s answer to the sources of corruption is novel, it nonetheless faces a few key challenges in implementing its program in Liberia. The program’s answers to these questions may offer useful tools for policy designers of public visibility programs in other developing countries.
Initially, many of Liberia’s numerous non-corrupt public servants may have feared that exposure would make them targets of more corrupt colleagues or superiors. Integrity Idol addressed this problem by forging partnerships with key Liberian ministries, portraying the program and its contestants as no direct threat to current corrupt officials. The public visibility of the program, and its non-confrontational approach to publicity, encouraged proper participants while almost totally eliminating government interference.
To identify non-corrupt civil servants in remote or less accessible municipalities, Integrity Idol utilized a word of mouth system for nominating applicants. Rather than limiting nominations for civil servants to only current public employees, the applications were open to all citizens. Anyone who had positive interactions with a public servant was encouraged to share their story in the form of a nomination, and a plurality of nominations was the first indicator of a strong candidate.
To ensure identified civil servants indeed conducted their jobs with integrity, Integrity Idol implemented a system of multiple checks and verifications. Program staff traveled to the workplaces of the nominees and interviewed the nominees, their public servant colleagues, and citizens with whom they interacted. This multi-layered and personal process has helped keep glory-seekers outside the Integrity Idol net.
Finally, Integrity Idol faced an additional challenge of reaching contestants in remote areas of the country due to poor road conditions, especially during the rainy season. The program skirted this challenge by adjusting their annual calendar to the rhythm of the geography, avoiding intensive travel during the rainy season – including the showcasing of final contestants in the capital, Monrovia. The program’s solicitation and presentation dates are flexible, adjusting yearly to the seasons and to local conditions.
Integrity Idol’s Impact
Arriving in Liberia as researchers, we expected high-level government resistance to Integrity Idol. After all, any program seeking to undermine the ability of corrupt officials to profit from their position will create the conditions for spoilers – those officials have something to lose if the national culture moves past corruption. Surprisingly, we observed no government opposition whatsoever; in fact, many branches of the national government were extremely receptive to the program’s goals and methods, and had facilitated its growth and spread over the past few years with such favors as space on the national public broadcast radio.
Because Integrity Idol focuses on “naming and faming,” it is seen as a positive force for the morale of civil servants and the citizenry alike. Avoidance of “naming and shaming” ensured that the program was not seen as a threat even to corrupt officials; whatever challenges they might face would come from national sources of anti-corruption authority, mostly other government agencies. It also focuses citizens on medium-level bureaucrats: nominees are often those who interact with both citizens and their fellow civil servants. The conduct of high-level bureaucrats is more difficult for a citizen to observe at a granular level, while most street-level bureaucrats have too personal a relationship to the citizens who know them, and their conduct is not readily observed by their superiors. Therefore, both the high-level official and the bribe-collecting policeman who opened this article are nominated less often than the mid-level office manager of a public waste system, or water management office, or land deed office – to name a few examples.
But Integrity Idol’s goal is not to expose every policeman who takes a bribe. Certainly, in countries with high petty bribery, inventive citizens have developed smartphone apps to report such misdeeds and help citizens feel more empowered to resist corruption, but this can also make them targets of retribution. Integrity Idol seeks instead to address the national culture of corruption endemic in its host countries where, like in Liberia, a generation of young adults have grown up believing corruption is ubiquitous. By focusing on so-called “mules,” public servants who quietly do their duties with diligence, Integrity Idol is trying to strike at the heart of this misconception, with the idea that in a decade or a generation, the impact of anti-corruption society will trickle up and down to those petty police and high representatives.
Integrity Idol events receive wide viewership when shown on television, and even wider listenership when broadcast over the national radio. Additionally, solicitation for Integrity Idol has been consistently high in the 5 years since its foundation, hovering at around 5000 applicants per year. These numbers were sustained even during periods of hardship, such as during reconstruction following the Ebola Crisis. Finally, the Liberian government has backed up its tacit acceptance of the program with visible and high-level attendance at Integrity Idol events. Notably, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joined the award ceremony for the 2017 Idols, and more recently, the nomination of a defense sector employee as a finalist brought public buy-in from the formerly obstinate security agencies.
Despite its successes, the impact of Integrity Idol in Liberia has been observably less positive than in some of the other 5 host countries, such as founding host Nepal. On the program’s ultimate goal of changing public perceptions of corruption, the figures are lacking. Where Integrity Idol Nepal has brought public opinion against endemic corruption to record high levels (80% of survey respondents believe “some public officials work in the interest of the people”), the work in Liberia has struggled to penetrate as deeply (just over 50% of Liberian respondents to the same question). This question, polled in 2018, ignores the respective changes over time, and massive country-level differences, but it does capture at least part of the scope of the problem. Perhaps this reduced penetration is due to Liberian culture and the lasting impacts of conflict; either way, it must be tackled.
For researchers interested in furthering the UN SDGs, it is worth asking whether Integrity Idol is actively contributing to anti-corruption per Goal 16. Measuring corruption is incredibly difficult because much of corruption is based on public perception. With just a quick survey of public opinion or a glance at NGO-collected democratization figures, Liberia appears to be getting worse, despite Accountability Lab’s best efforts. Transparency International releases an annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that measures perceived public sector corruption based on expert assessment and opinion surveys. In 2011, Liberia scored 51/100 on the CPI, where 0 demarks a highly corrupt society and 100 a very clean one. The country worsened by 10 points in 2012; today, Liberia scores only 31/100. Furthermore, Liberia’s corruption indicators are always contested and disregarded by the public when they do show signs of improvement because people believe they do not represent the views of the average Liberian.
An analysis of country-level trends in Liberia reveals, however, that Integrity Idol might simply have a tougher job in Liberia than in Nepal or other host countries. Under President Sirleaf (2006-2017), the Liberian government instituted a number of anti-corruption and auditing institutions and enacted laws to make corruption harder to carry out. It also instituted other transparency initiatives that have made the public sector more accountable. Compared to the immediate post-war years, Liberia has made progress in decreasing corruption, but with the absolute figures so high, and amidst a number of highly-public scandals, the public struggles to believe in any improvement. Even President Sirleaf noted in her final state of the nation address that she had failed her pledge to make corruption public enemy number one. Given the scale of corruption in Liberia and the vast income differences between public officials and the ordinary citizen, the average Liberian will still remark that corruption has not decreased or will say they do not believe corruption can be eliminated, especially in the public sector.
But these trends are not unique to Liberia. Transparency International notes that of the 180 countries measured for their index, “more than two thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI,” a trend that is “contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world.” Under these conditions, it is worth asking whether Integrity Idol is not stemming the tide of an even worse backslide in Liberia or other countries. Consider the following counterfactuals. Since 2014, a few high-level officials have been charged and brought to court, but the government has lost almost all the cases. Other officials have simply left the country during their trials in an attempt to wait out public outrage. It would appear these perpetrators have escaped justice. But if the deeper goal of Accountability Lab is to make citizens reconsider their views on the ubiquity of corruption, perhaps these are victories: the official has not been convicted, but he has been tried; he has not been caught, but he has been forced to flee the source of his illicit gains. Without Integrity Idol and the anti-corruption measures of President Sirleaf, it is difficult to say whether these officials would have ever stood trial in the court of public opinion.
Integrity Idol has made some significant progress in penetrating national awareness, but the problem of corruption remains intractable due to its deep relationship with years of conflict and hardship. Changing the national culture in Liberia will take time, and each incident of high-level corruption that is exposed will damage public confidence, even as such revelations (and hopefully, prosecutions) demonstrate that other elements of the Liberian justice system are beginning to get their act together. While Integrity Idol itself is not outing and prosecuting highly public, high-level officials who engage in large government scandals, it may be fostering a government or a national culture that is more willing to demand this accountability. The impact of the program, while difficult to measure, is likely wrapped up in microscopic normative changes.
Given a longer time horizon, Integrity Idol’s biggest achievement may actually be its relationship with the national government; without pressure to nominate ethically-compromised candidates, the program is free to build up genuine public confidence in its pool of non-corrupt public figures. As that pool grows each year, and Idol winners return to their communities as current and prior civil servants, they will inspire a new generation of Liberians to ask more from the leaders and accept less in the way of corruption. Maybe some of the idols’ contemporaries will be inspired to give up petty corruption and join the Liberia of the future themselves.
Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.
James Kiawoin is an MPA candidate in Public Affairs studying International Development and Global Health. As a Liberian native, James has seen firsthand the impact of years of war and transitions on citizen confidence in the government. He is available on Twitter (@JEkiawoin).
Sakari Ishetiar is an MPA candidate in Public Affairs studying US policy competition with Russia especially in the Middle East and North Africa. He is interested in how governments communicate their policies to citizens. He is available on Twitter (@ishetiar) and by email (Ishetiar01@gmail.com).
We need quality buildings to safely house our schools, hospitals, offices, and our homes. We also live in a world with limited resources for constructing and operating new buildings, which means we need buildings that are sustainable and resilient in addition to being safe and functional.
Most cities facing this challenge are full of underutilized historic buildings and sites with cultural, social, economic, and technological value. These historic places are precisely the solution required in growing cities, and they have surprising economic and environmental benefits.
As catalyzing drivers of development, cities seem to be in direct opposition with historic structures. Cities need buildings that are safe, resilient, efficient, and accessible…but how? What happens to old buildings that stand in the way of new projects? How do we measure and balance the value of historic buildings with the value of progress and modern sustainable building practices? The momentum of development and emerging green technologies drive cities to build for the future. At first glance, run down historic buildings without some modern features (like adequate steel reinforcement or airtight window frames) seem to stand in the way of city and human development, where it is much easier to opt for cheaper, faster, and larger buildings than investing in an existing building.
Why consider historic structures? Historic buildings can be buildings of any style, construction method, period, or function; important historical sites in the US range from the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising to 12th century Acoma Pueblo. Most of the world’s historic buildings and sites are protected by legislation and active conservation organizations, which recognize the invaluable artistic, historical, social, and scientific importance of these places. In addition to these less tangible values, heritage structures have a proven record of longevity and resilience in the face of two millennia (or more) of natural and anthropogenic hazards. Historic buildings are fascinating because they function as both sociocultural bulwarks and priceless repositories of technological advancements. Many of the world’s historic sites are “good” buildings that can teach us important lessons about sustainability and building construction.
By “good” buildings, we can mean a variety of things. In the most basic sense, a good building is one that physically serves its purpose (i.e., to physically encompass and support a hospital). From different perspectives, “good” collects more qualifications: the building’s function must be fulfilled attractively, efficiently, reliably, safely, and/or inclusively. Good buildings become even better when they serve their purpose and carry additional features, like full ADA accessibility, cultural significance, or LEED green building credits. Ideally, sustainable buildings and good buildings are the same. In reality, though, issues like short-term (rather than long-term) economic thinking can deepen the divide between “good” functional buildings and holistically good (and sustainable) buildings.
I argue that sustainable development can embrace the lessons and presence of historic buildings with positive environmental, social, and economic implications of historic buildings. In other words, why the best development solution is not destroying and replacing a historic building with a new and perhaps exemplary green building.
Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, including “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.”
These four hallmarks (inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable) can be used to understand the various arguments in support of conservation and reuse of historic buildings.
There is a large body of work establishing the connections between heritage sites and humanity’s collective memory, or shared identity (see, for instance, a search of “collective memory” in the ICOMOS publications, or on Google Scholar). By definition, collective memory is an inclusive phenomenon. Historical sites are physical witnesses to shared heritage in the history and places that bind us together as humans. Our own stories can be shared and understood through physical places and spaces. Less abstractly, the acts of preservation, from documentation to regular maintenance, necessarily employ and involve entire communities (as in proven asset-based community development initiatives). ICOMOS guidelines exist for a project’s community engagement: for example, the Getty Conservation Institute recently completed a project on the participatory conservation of the Kasbah of Taourirt that relied on developing and utilizing local capacity in repair, technology, and documentation. Since heritage sites are rarely privately owned, we are all stakeholders of these resources and involved in decision making and use of these sites.
Vacant buildings are unsafe, and in many cities those vacant building are also historic. The correlation between increased crime and number of vacant properties has been established in the US. In fact, by using buildings that already exist within cities and reducing rates of vacancy in a city, historic buildings can both make cities safer and counteract urban sprawl (for example, see this excellent post on Sense and Sustainability). Safe cities, therefore, can be cities that embrace the potential and intrinsic value of their heritage buildings.
In an age of urgent demand for resilient cities that can respond to increasing natural and man-made hazards (for example, rising earthquake, flooding, and fire risks in Seattle), we can learn invaluable lessons from heritage buildings that remain standing after 200, 300, 1500, 2000, or even 3200 years. The fact that these buildings have withstood assault on every front and remain stable speaks not only to the ingenuity of ancient builders but also to the resilience of these structures. Some ancient constructions intentionally dissipate earthquake loadings better than some modern buildings: compare the stacked drum columns of seismically active Greece to the monolithic columns of less-seismically active Rome. Because of their inherent resiliency, historic buildings do not necessarily require retrofitting and structural modification; like all buildings, historic buildings depend on regular maintenance for their longevity. Structurally safe and resilient historic buildings, with regular maintenance, can be more sustainable than new construction by eliminating the energy and waste involved in construction, use, and demolition of an entirely new building.
“Historic buildings are inherently sustainable.” So begins the Whole Building Design Guide, a knowledge portal for practitioners published by the National Institute of Building Sciences. The greatest advantage for historical buildings in the service of balancing sustainability and human development is, in fact, their inherent sustainability. These buildings can be adapted to a variety of new uses, whether the project is commercial, residential, or for public use. Not only does adaptive reuse of an existing historic building eliminate construction of a new building, it also eliminates accompanying construction and demolition waste. It is certainly important to consider the holistic energy use of buildings, from extraction, manufacturing, transport, and assembly of the materials in a building; to energy used by a building over its lifetime; to the demolition and disposal of its rubble. Recent life-cycle analysis (LCA) studies by the Preservation Green Lab compare similarly sized and used historic buildings to new construction options, concluding that most historic buildings can be reused with fewer environmental impacts than new “green” construction. Because they were constructed before interior climate control technology was developed, they are often equipped with efficient features instead. These include thick walls with optimal overhangs that trap winter heat during the day and release it at night and whose thermal mass helps the interior stay cool during summer months. Adaptive reuse of these structures can result in creative solutions, like Queen’s Quay and other projects in Toronto, that improve the sustainability and overall experience of a city. In looking at the “total energy” of buildings, in many cases the greenest building is one that is already built; embracing and using heritage buildings can be one of the best ways to make them sustainable.
Sustainable development for urban people and places naturally includes and necessitates preservation of our heritage sites. Furthermore, environmental steps toward sustainability simultaneously preserve both human and environmental health. This has a positive effect on our built heritage, reducing degradation mechanisms and threats to these sites, while improving environmental and social factors affecting our health.
The third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3), as adopted in the 2015 UN General Assembly meeting, strives to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” by 2030. There are nine targets specified under this goal that can be broadly classified into four categories: (1) decreasing maternal and child mortality, (2) reducing the incidence of diseases, (3) reducing human-caused mortality including substance abuse and road-traffic incidents, and (4) expanding access to affordable health care. Compared to prior efforts, SDG3 provides renewed focus on issues like substance abuse, mental health and affordable health-care for all – issues that affect the developed world as much as the developing world. The SDG3 builds on and expands the health-focused millennium development goals that were adopted in 2000. Indeed, the world community has made significant progress in reducing child mortality, maternal mortality, access to reproductive health, and reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. However, many of these reductions are far from the targets established in the MDGs – for example, maternal mortality has reduced from 386 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to about 216 in 2015, significant but far short of the target of 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. More importantly, progress has been uneven, especially across the poorest and the most disadvantages populations in the world.
Worldwide maternal mortality rate: Number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (Source: Wikipedia)
Progress toward any of these goals is only as good as the monitoring mechanisms in place. In this context, the SDGs differ markedly from the last decade’s MDGs because of the development of sustainable development goal indicators – these ‘indicators’ refer to various statistical health data that track progress and keep various countries accountable. A thorough global database on these specific indicators and other metrics is already available. And that highlights one of the major problems in all global development goals – the lack of institutional support and robust data collection from many regions (especially in parts of Oceania, and sub-Saharan Africa) hinders any attempt to track progress. Lessons from other global governing bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) could help – one way would be to develop regional expertise within the UN to help developing countries better monitor their efforts.
This goal to improve health outcomes through specific and measurable targets might make the issue seem tractable. However there are important challenges in the years ahead that are exacerbated by globalization and improved mobility. For example, road-accident related fatalities have been increasingin the developing world because of economic development. Record numbers in global mobility will simultaneously increase the risk of spawning epidemics like Ebola or Zika, which would demand a robust and rapid global response to contain its spread. The rapid urbanization in developing countries like China and India will further strain urban infrastructure – without massive investments, urban pockets are in danger of becoming hot beds for water-borne and other communicable diseases. And finally, the recent uptick in global conflicts has resulted in over 60 million people being displaced – a number not last seen since World War II. Any global effort to improve health-care will need to be coordinated with other goals that directly affect health outcomes.
While there are many targeted policies that will directly influence healthcare and wellbeing, it would be naïve to assume that improving global health standards is not dependent on progress across many of the other SDGs. For example, access to clean water and improved sanitation (SDG #6), especially in rapidly developing urban areas in Asia and Africa, can significantly reduce the incidence of many communicable diseases. A growing body of research also show that the physical and social environment (SDG #11) can influence the life expectancy at birth – such stark differences can even be seen in the developed world. Recent experiences in reducing the prevalence of AIDS or improving access to reproductive health-care have shown how unequal progress has been – big gaps exist between the poorest and the richest households, between men and women, and between rural and urban regions. Progress even in regional health outcomes would be strongly tied to success in reducing inequalities (SDG #5, #10) and increasing girls’ educational attainment (SDG #4).
Ultimately, the biggest test for the success of any of these programs comes in the form of investments required – capital to the tune of trillions of dollars will have to be mobilized over the next 15 years, largely through public finance and aid. Recent rounds of talks have ended without any concrete commitments in the part of the developed nations. It is not yet clear if equitable mechanisms to fund massive improvements in infrastructure and health-care initiatives across large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia will be available.
Arvind graduated with a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University in 2015 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University. His professional interests currently lie at the intersection of energy, climate change and policy. Arvind is an Associate Editor at Highwire Earth. Follow him on Twitter @arvindpawan1.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers.” -Nelson Mandela
One can’t help but grin and gasp when watching those close Olympic races where the winner came from behind in the last few seconds, or those brief moments when gymnasts are in the air before they land (amongst countless other remarkable instances across sports). The Olympics is one of the few events that brings together people from almost every nation around the world, and though the main objective is to compete against each other, one can often see good camaraderie between athletes and fans of different countries.
But sports are much more than entertainment and a career path – they can contribute to the integral development of whoever practices it, and they can help unite communities. This is why sports have been recognized by organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development as powerful tools to build peace and contribute to countries’ social development.
Helping One Grow as an Individual
I did Tae-Kwon-Do when I was a kid and then swimming as a teenager. Thanks to these sports I made friends, travelled to new places, and managed to win a few medals to display in my room. However, it was not until I left home to go to college that I fully appreciated all that I was bringing with me thanks to these two sports.
First, I learned discipline: to listen and follow the directions of my coach, to respect my teammates and opponents, and to behave with integrity both when winning and losing. Martial arts also teaches self-control since having the ability to cause serious harm to someone means that you have to be very mindful of when and how you use them (“Fighting not good. But if must fight… win.” – Mr. Miyagi, The Next Karate Kid). I reinforced these skills and values when I started swimming, and I mastered one more: perseverance. As I focused on long-distance swimming, I had to learn to keep going, one stroke at a time, through the pain that you feel after you have been swimming continuously for close to an hour.
Knowing that you are good at something, and even more, that you are getting better at it, helps build your self-esteem. This is arguably easier to do with sports and other physical activities, because the pain and fatigue you are fighting to overcome at each practice, each game, and each competition is very tangible. This self-esteem came very handy as a teenager, when I resisted peer-pressure to smoke, since I would not do anything that would harm my swimming.
I was not an amazing athlete and I was not close to being able to qualify for my college swimming team, but I still carry all these things that I gained from sports, and I recognize that they made me stronger mentally, even more so than physically. My experience is not an exception but a common trend for whoever practices a sport regularly, from amateurs to professionals.
Integrating Communities, Healing Wounds, and Keeping the Youth Safe
The European Union has recognized the power of sports in helping integrate immigrants and asylum seekers, and last June the Council of Europe’s Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport met in Vienna, Austria to discuss policies to aid the integration of refugees through sports. The International Olympic Committee also contributed by creating the first Refugee Olympic Team. The expected outcome of this decision is summarized best by the words of Yusra Mardini, a swimmer who was forced to flee from Syria and now lives in Germany, and who competed last week in the Olympics: “I want everyone to think refugees are normal people who had their homelands and lost them not because they wanted to run away and be refugees, but because they have dreams in their lives and they had to go.”
Popular team sports, including soccer and basketball are being used to help integrate people across communities and countries following conflict – i.e. Sports Diplomacy. For example, the World Bank organized The Great Lakes Peace Cup in 2012 between the countries of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda to help bring their people together after years of wars in the region. Each team was purposefully made up by an equal mix of civilians and former combatants. Events like these bring former opponents together, allowing them to meet and realize that they are not so different from each other, hopefully making future conflicts less likely.
Sports can improve young children’s motor skills and coordination (which are critical for their development), and teenagers’ hygiene and dietary habits. Practicing sports can also help them stay away from danger and bad influences. In Brazil, the land of soccer, a man created an interesting initiative in the favela (i.e. a Brazilian slum) of Chacrinha in Rio de Janeiro that is known for its crime and poverty. He introduced the youth to badminton by building a training center in the middle of the favela with funding help from NGOs and philanthropists. Even better, he mixes Samba dancing into practice to teach the players rhythm and coordination. Projects like this benefit the kids in the community by keeping them away from drugs and gangs, and by helping them develop self-esteem and values such as respect and integrity. It also gives them a chance to dream of one day becoming a gold medalist who comes from a favela.
Sports can bring many benefits to individuals and their communities that can translate to improvements in public health (Sustainable Development Goal, SDG #3), reduced violence (SDG #16), and increased community cohesion. A company even leveraged the popularity of soccer to create a ball that harnesses the energy from kicking it around to later be used as a lamp, helping improve access to electricity in remote communities (SDG #7). Thus, it is essential to invest seriously on projects that introduce the youth to sports and allow them to practice them throughout their life.
Moreover, it is key that such initiatives include both girls and boys so that everybody benefits from their rewards, helping us bridge gender inequality along the way (SDG #5). Often times girls are not allowed or discouraged from practicing sports, but they can be a critical pathway to help girls develop confidence in themselves, and break gender roles and stereotypes. It is vital that this divide is also bridged in professional sports, so that young girls have more role models to whom they can relate better, and who can inspire them to pursue their own goals and dreams.
The closing ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will start the countdown for Tokyo, Japan in 2020. As the athletes return to their countries, many young children will surely be inspired to pursue a sport, though many in the poorest communities of the world will find this challenging. Much needs to be done to increase their access to sports. While the most formidable and entertaining matches and competitions happen in large and fancy stadiums, the most important for countries’ development happen in empty fields and at local swimming pools and gyms.
Julio Herrera Estrada is a 5th year PhD Candidate in the Environmental Engineering and Water Resources Program, and the Editor-in-Chief of Highwire Earth. His research focuses on the mechanisms and human impacts of droughts, and the policies that can help make our resource management sustainable and resilient. Follow him on Twitter@JulioSustDev.
The beginning of 2016 marked the start of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were agreed upon by the United Nations last September. These 17 goals, broken into 169 specific targets, are set to last through 2030 and address a wide range of interrelated issues such as poverty alleviation, improved health and education, gender equality, sustainable use of natural resources, and biodiversity conservation. The SDGs replaced the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that lasted from 2000 to 2015. Many of the MDGs were successfully met, but huge gaps still remained on issues including access to drinking water, income inequality, and gender inequality (here’s the final report).
The first goal in both the MDGs and the SDGs focuses on poverty. The initial goal was to help at least half of the people who had less than US$1.25 per day (the definition of extreme poverty) rise above that threshold between 1990 and 2015. This goal was successfully met as the proportion of extreme poverty was cut from 49% to 14% by 2015. SDG #1 now calls for reducing this proportion to zero as well as addressing poor communities above the extreme poverty line. Moreover, this goal raises two key needs:
Empowerment of communities to have the ability to rise from poverty, and
Building communities’ resilience against climate, social, and economic shocks
Seeking countries to take ownership of this SDG and acknowledging that poverty looks differently around the world, it encourages each country to use their own definitions of poverty and to design “nationally appropriate social protection systems.” It suggests countries to ensure that poor communities have access to basic social services, financial services, property rights, sustainable livelihoods, and entrepreneurial opportunities. While there is also a call for increasing mobilization of resources towards poverty alleviation and the creation of a supportive international environment, the United Nations is encouraging development from within.
In this context, resilience is the ability of people and communities to reduce their exposure and vulnerabilities to natural hazards such as droughts and floods, or economic or social shocks. This is an important aspect to address, given that a recent report by the World Bank found that climate change related hazards would push back 100 million people below the extreme poverty line by 2030, if development efforts do not take them into account and emphasize building resilience.
The good news is that this framework to combat poverty in the next 15 years is addressing the roots of the problem and is treating it as a multi-faceted issue where advances in gender equality, employment, social services, and infrastructure are also recognized as critical. Nevertheless, the resources needed to achieve this goal will put it in conflict with the SDGs that address the conservation of our climate and the planet’s natural ecosystems. There is little doubt that huge strives in creativity, innovation, and will to change some of our habits will be needed if we are to achieve all 17 SDGs.
Julio Herrera Estrada is a 5th year PhD Candidate in the Environmental Engineering and Water Resources Program, and the Editor-in-Chief of Highwire Earth. His research focuses on the mechanisms and human impacts of droughts, and the policies that can help make our resource management sustainable and resilient. Follow him on Twitter @JulioSustDev.
Some names in this blog post have been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned.
Jack greeted me cheerfully as he strolled into class, asking me how things are going.
“I’m fine, thanks,” I replied. “How are you?”
“Oh, I’m good,” he chuckled. “You know, given the circumstances!”
We were sitting in a men’s maximum security prison in New Jersey with nine others settling down for a lesson in environmental sciences. Through the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons (NJ-STEP) program and the Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI) at Princeton University, I was one of five teachers at the prison that night. The others were teaching classes on algebra, history, psychology, and the biology of woody plants.
Education programs within prisons in the U.S. are widespread but underfunded and they depend heavily on volunteer teachers and organizers. A student in my class today asked me to write to an NJ-STEP representative to push for a fundraising campaign to make the organization self-reliant. He was worried because the program has dealt with pushback from the public by those who argue that prisoners should not receive a free education on the taxpayer’s dime while others must go into debt for one. By the time you’ve finished reading this, I hope that you’ll agree that prison education programs should receive more public funding, not less, for both social justice and economic reasons, and that the U.S. should save taxpayers’ money by phasing out its unsustainable mass incarceration system.
“Tough on crime” really means “tough on the marginalized” The U.S. used to be on par with European countries in its rate of incarceration. Between 1930 and 1970, the rate of imprisonment in the U.S. held steady at about 110 in 100,000 residents. This was comparable to rates in Europe, which have remained stable and low (e.g. Germany imprisons 93 in 100,000 residents, Turkey imprisons 112, and Denmark 67). Beginning in Nixon’s second term in the 1970’s, however, the prison population in the U.S. exploded, and now stands at 750 incarcerated people for every 100,000 residents (for the sociopolitical history behind this see this article in The Atlantic). The concurrent increase in the number of blacks imprisoned, the number of privately owned prisons, and the virtually free labor their inmates provide them has prompted some to equate this with the reinstatement of a form of racial segregation, and of slavery.
“Doubling the conviction rate in this country would do far more to cure crime in America than quadrupling the funds for [the] War on Poverty.”
–Richard Nixon, TIME Magazine 1968
Nixon was wrong. Crime rates peaked in 1991, and only after that did they fall precipitously. While incarceration rates continued to climb afterward, the contribution that mass incarceration may have made to the decline in crime rates is estimated to be as low as 5%, with diminishing effects the further incarceration rates escalated. Moreover, crime has continued to decline in states that have recently cut back dramatically on incarceration rates.
The costs of mass incarceration are not borne solely by incarcerated Americans and their families. Most of America’s incarcerated people are in state prisons. At an average annual cost of roughly $31,000 per inmate in state prisons, taxpayers are taking a major hit as a result of mass incarceration. Over the past couple of decades, correctional costs have been the second-fastest growing budget item at the state level after Medicaid. If the U.S. released half of its imprisoned that have been incarcerated for non-violent crimes, taxpayers would save $16.9 billion a year, a figure roughly equivalent to the GDP of Estonia.
The trauma of disadvantage For many, including myself, it is difficult to understand the effects of growing up within a low-socioeconomic status (SES) household and/or with systemic racism without experiencing it firsthand. This cartoon summarizes some of those struggles, and this man’s story chronicles the anxiety of living under constant suspicion and racial profiling as an urban black man.
The effect of intersecting disadvantages is greater than the sum of its parts. Due to factors like discriminatory zoning policies that imposed segregation across race and class in American cities, many people in prison are from poor neighborhoods. In these communities, public schools are more likely to be overcrowded and underfunded, with low graduation rates and limited post-graduation opportunities. Some turn to illegal business to get out of this situation, and may become examples to youth of those who appear to have ‘made it’. Many do not, yet to be black or Hispanic in many American cities includes growing up under constant vigilance — from police officers to shopkeepers. Superfluous identity checks, pat-downs and arrests for innocuous offenses or actions that are not even offenses (e.g., eating French fries on a subway, sitting in a car in your aunt’s driveway, or video-recording an arrest), are not uncommon.
In a country that incarcerates more people than any other on the planet and about a third of its black men and a sixth of its Hispanic men (New Jersey is among the five worst states in this regard, with a black:white ratio of 12.5 to 1 and a Hispanic:white ratio of 3 to 1 in its prisons), it doesn’t take much imagination to understand how badly the odds are stacked against them. Many of the roughly 2 million incarcerated people in the U.S. don’t have to imagine it — they’ve lived it.
“. . . over the last few decades, I think many in the African-American community have been seduced by the argument that, well, this is all our fault. Somehow we’ve brought mass incarceration upon ourselves. If only we would pull up our pants or stay in school or not experiment with drugs, if only somehow we could be perfect and never make a mistake, that none of this would be happening. But, of course . . . young white kids who make mistakes, commit misdemeanors and jaywalking and smoke weed, they are able to go off to college if they’re middle-class. But if you’re poor or you live in the hood, the kinds of mistakes that people of all colors and classes make actually cost them their lives. And yet, then we turn around and blame them and say, ‘This is all your fault’.”
– Michelle Alexander, Democracy Now!
On the way home, the other teachers and I stop for some dinner and share stories of our experiences. Although all of us have to be careful with the way we phrase certain things in class, those teaching psychology have to be extra sensitive.
“Today’s class was on childhood development. The section about theories on how early childhood experiences can affect one’s life trajectory,” explained Nicky. “That was sort of tricky to talk about. Some students would bring up their own past experiences, and some wondered what was going to happen to their children while they were away for so long.” The teachers didn’t have definite answers for them, emphasizing that there was still so much that was not known about the brain.
We do know, however, that the psychological effects of negative stereotypes, many of which our students grew up with, can be pervasive and affect performance in school or at work. A famous study by Steele and Aronson showed that black students performed as well as white students on an aptitude test, except when told that the test was meant to diagnose their intelligence. The researchers ascribed this psychological effect to the feeling of being at risk of fulfilling stereotypes associated with one’s group, which they termed ‘stereotype threat’. The same phenomenon has been shown in women, Hispanics, people of low SES, and even in white men when told they were being tested on a math test against Asian men [1–3].
Part of our task as teachers in prisons has become, at times unconsciously, to reverse the effects of what is often a lifelong belief that one is not intelligent, good at various school subjects, or deserving of a good education. The students’ reactions to our efforts have been rewarding but heart-breaking; even the slightest bit of encouragement from us is met with gratitude, and they repeatedly express how much they love to be able to come to our classes. For many of them, class time is an important psychological break from being insulated from the outside world and a sign that it has not forgotten them.
Releasing birds with clipped wings Pushing for social change for a more equitable American society is the main task at hand, but it will take time. Meanwhile, over 600,000 people are released from prison every year. Many of them have nowhere to go and end up in shelters or on the streets. They are expected to integrate into society and make an honest living despite years of missed opportunities and despite having to inform potential employers that they have been incarcerated (they have to check ‘the box’, an enormous impediment to success in the employment race). These are not trivial hurdles for someone who has lived in an insular world and must now relearn a different lifestyle, operate new technologies, and catch up with the outside world that has surged ahead full-throttle without them. This New York Times article describes the shell shock of being released after many years in prison, and how some non-profit organizations are working to ease the process. Many of these discharged men and women (about 68%) are rearrested within two years following release, a shocking proportion only until one realizes that they are usually worse off than they were before their original incarceration.
Most federal and state prisons do offer some form of high school or college-level education, but only about 2% of the inmates in a given institution can participate in these programs because capacity is so limited. A provision of the 1994 Crime Act severely diminished these opportunities by discontinuing eligibility for Pell grants for the incarcerated. Judicial scholars have been recommending the reinstatement of this eligibility ever since (e.g. refs 4–5). The costs of doing so would be modest: $34 million or 0.1% of the $53 billion grant fund was granted to prisoners in 1994. This investment pays for itself and then some, with vocational education in prisons returning, on average, about five times the investment in benefits to taxpayers through crime reduction alone. Not to mention reductions in recidivism by roughly one-half in formerly incarcerated people that participate in prison education programs, and further reductions in those that successfully complete courses while in prison.
From baby steps to leaps and bounds
“You should see how hard-working and disciplined my students are,” Katie told the rest of us. “One of them has a strict schedule of work, exercise, and studying. He’s preparing for having to juggle work and study when he goes to Rutgers next year after his release!” We all gushed and the conversation turned to the recent news about how a Bard Prison Initiative prison debate team beat a Harvard debate team.
To respect our students’ privacy and to ensure that we can teach them without prejudice, we generally aren’t aware of what our students are there for or for how long. However, with little tidbits that our students have offered us, we’ve gathered that some of them are in class to prepare for work or further education after being released, and that others are there despite having little hope of being released for a very long time. This dynamic makes the class a joy to teach and interact with because they are all there voluntarily, they are highly motivated, and many are there just to learn for the sake of learning. Regardless of their particular situations, the opportunity to take courses in prison represents a sliver of hope for building themselves up to a better future.
A recent turn of events has brought more hope for the imprisoned: in July 2015, the Departments of Education and Justice announced that eligibility for Pell grants in support of pursuing post-secondary education and training for incarcerated Americans has been re-established through the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. This announcement came with more welcome news, including steps being taken by the Federal Government to join the rising number of businesses and institutions that are “banning the box” on job applications (at least for the initial candidate screening), new funding to address homelessness and reduce recidivism in people released from prisons, and improving opportunities for children with incarcerated parents.
These are great first steps, but as long as prison education is not a standard option offered to most imprisoned Americans, many will still be released without having had opportunities to improve their chances of integration. Even with the current policy improvements, prison teaching programs will remain highly limited in capacity and dependent on volunteerism and donations. Most imprisoned Americans will still never get to study in a prison classroom, despite the supposed reformative purpose of prisons and the opportunities within them to close the education gap in the U.S. (39% of the incarcerated are below the literacy line, compared to 20% in the population as a whole). There is no quick fix for a voracious carceral system that has run on overdrive for four decades and a social system that has never been equitable, but there are big things that can be done now. It is essential to pull people out of the prison cycle by funding prison education; we cannot afford to abandon those who have been failed by this society. The Second Chance Pell Pilot Program will help, but reallocating resources to make education programs a standard resource for people in prisons would convert this baby step to a great leap forward.
This is what it comes down to: mass incarceration is expensive to taxpayers and contributes to the cycle of poverty, but releasing people from prison without improving their chances at integration often lands them back into prison. Offering incarcerated Americans opportunities to build themselves up through prison education programs pays for itself through reductions in crime and recidivism and gives them hope for the future. Empowering the casualties of a dysfunctional system through these training programs is therefore not only just, but is also good social and economic policy. Taxpayers can afford to give more of America’s imprisoned a ‘second chance’, especially considering that most did not have a fair first chance to begin with.
They Teach Us
On the next Tuesday at the prison, another small group assembled behind the teachers in the lobby, waiting to be let in.
“Are you teachers as well?” I asked.
“No, they teach us,” replied the man with a smile.
He was with an Alcoholics Anonymous group that meets with imprisoned alcoholics for group therapy sessions. Like him, it didn’t take very many classes for me to realize how much I was learning from my students. My initial preconceptions and prejudices about what it might be like to teach in a maximum security prison were whittled away and I was impressed at the depth of knowledge several of them had on important environmental issues. They were very hard-working and keen students — among the best I have ever taught. By the second class, teaching in prison had become the highlight of my week. It was my opportunity to climb out of the ivory tower and do something. An opportunity to understand a world that is tucked away in large buildings in the forgotten corners of America, where 2 million Americans live, yet from which many of us are completely disconnected.
If you are a member of the Princeton community, sign the Students for Prison Education And Reform (SPEAR) petition for our admissions system to abolish ‘the box’ here.
If you would like to contribute to Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI), whether through volunteering or donations, please contact Sandra Sussman.
ssussman [at] princeton.edu
Some of the other teachers shared end-of-semester student feedback with me for this article:
“Thank you so much for taking the time to teach us. You are greatly appreciated!”
“I really appreciate all of the professors and the opportunity to learn about the natural world. It is AWESOME!”
“I will never look at trees and plants in the same way again. I am glad I took this class.”
“Thank you for your time and volunteering to teach us. Prior to this section we had no idea you all did this on your own time. I thank you all and appreciate the gift of education.”
Kaia Tombak is a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. She studies social organization in gregarious animals and ecological networks in East Africa.
 Aronson J, Lustina MJ, Good C, Keough K, Steele CM, and Brown J. 1999. When white men can’t do math: necessary and sufficient factors in stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 35: 29–46.
 Schmader T, Johns M. 2003. Converging evidence that stereotype threat reduces working memory capacity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85: 440–452.
 Croizet J-C, Claire T. 1998. Extending the concept of stereotype threat to social class: the intellectual underperformance of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 24: 588–594.
 Tewksbury R, Erickson DJ, Taylor JM. 2000. Opportunities lost: The consequences of eliminating Pell Grant eligibility for correctional education students. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 31: 43–56.