Challenges of Government Conference 2019

The New Generations

31 October - 1 November 2019, Blavatnik School of Government

Politics is experiencing a generational shift. People born after 1980 face starkly different economic, social, and technological prospects than previous generations. In almost every country, generational cleavages on core challenges of government are increasingly salient.

Our Challenges of Government Conference 2019 looks at how those under 40 are changing the world and at the most important issues for millennials and Gen Z – from technology to climate change to identity.

Confirmed speakers range from the youngest ever Member of European Parliament (Kira Peter-Hansen) to Germany’s youngest mayor (Marian Schreier), and include activists, researchers and practitioners from every continent.

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Shining a spotlight on young changemakers and generational issues, we will cover topics that will shape the challenges of government for decades to come:

The new economics: Sharp disparities across generations in income, wealth, job prospects, and housing, in a context of rising inequality, have changed the landscape of economic debates. How important are generational differences? Is capitalism broken, and if so how do we fix it? What new models look most promising?

The new civics: Among the younger generation and beyond, there is growing dissatisfaction with ‘the establishment’. Trust in the elite is at an all-time low. Many are looking to effect change from outside established institutions – through activism, citizen movements and social entrepreneurship. What new forms of civic engagement are emerging, and which are most effective?

The future of the planet: Younger generations have inherited a planet in great peril. How do we preserve it, and what are the right approaches when national governments and multilateral bodies aren’t moving fast enough?

Technological change and the public interest: The lives of the digital natives will be profoundly shaped by changing technology and by the data explosion. How can governments both harness and regulate technology for the widest benefit?

Cities: The majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and cities are dominated by the young and mobile. How does municipal government ensure its own legitimacy in the face of an ever-changing population?

Identity: Rapid changes in social norms, particularly around questions of identity – race, gender, sexuality – are disrupting political conventions and power relations. Meanwhile, nationalism as a source of identity is resurgent. How can these trends be forces for progress rather than conflict?

Throughout, we will ask the question ‘inside or outside?’ – should the young and the dissatisfied seek to change things from within by entering established institutions, or to drive change through external activism and building new institutions and networks? How do these approaches relate to each other, and to the career trajectories of the next generation of public leaders?


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The Challenges of Government Conference is the Blavatnik School's annual flagship event, which brings together the brightest minds in government, the private sector and academia to discuss policies, strategies and solutions to the world’s public policy challenges. View previous conferences.