About Next System Studies

Our lives feel precarious. Many of us are anxious about the future. And our ability to respond effectively to the social, economic, political, climate, ecological, and human crises of these times is undermined by a widespread sense of crisis fatigue. Into this moment enters a new government in Washington that has promised to “Build Back Better.” But should we build back better only from what the last president called the “American carnage” of recent years, or must we also find ways to overcome the mounting crises of the past forty years and the painful inequities of the past four hundred years? 

The 2022 Next System Fellows will be among the first students anywhere to participate in courses of next system studies. Together we will move beyond identifying and critiquing problems. Next system studies involve the study of next system design, systemic movements, and system change. A rising tide of community-based movements and initiatives offer the possibility that from this period of systemic decay may emerge a next system that is more democratic, sustainable, and just. Students will engage directly with the experiences and ideas created through these initiatives. We also will draw from fertile fields of study in political economy, cooperatives, technology and society, transition studies, popular constitutionalism, the commons, sustainable design, revolutions and social transformation, activist praxis, and social movements.

A Next System Fellowship provides excellent preparation for internships and careers in public policy and public service, social entrepreneurship, cooperative development, community and human services, education, labor organizing and worker rights, and social movement organizations and advocacy. We will engage directly with ongoing next system efforts in Virginia and the region, meet with practitioners and policy experts, present and discuss readings and films in a seminar format, and perform group work relevant to communities directly served and affected by George Mason University.