Policy

Editors' note: In search of a different discussion on race

By Hal Weitzman,  Emily Lambert   
June 17, 2014

From: Magazine

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the US Civil Rights Act, and the 60th anniversary of the landmark US Supreme Court decision that desegregated public schools, Brown v. Board of Education. While there has been tremendous progress since both, racism is clearly alive and well in America. When Donald Sterling, then-owner of the LA Clippers basketball team, was caught on tape this year spewing racist remarks—prompting a $2.5 million fine and a lifetime ban from the National Basketball Association—it was only the most recent high-profile example of racial prejudice making headlines. 

What if we could turn racism off? That's an idea raised in our cover story ("Think you're not racist?"). Research suggests that racism is embedded in our minds, and specific prompts can stoke or stifle it. That's news we'd like to discuss more. 

Chicago Booth doesn't have academic departments per se, which encourages academics from different disciplines to mingle. The story includes research by economists Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica, behavioral scientists Eugene M. Caruso and Jane L. Risen, and behavioral economist Devin G. Pope. Elsewhere in this issue, you can find research about stereotypes from Abigail Sussman, who specializes in marketing ("What kind of person (or monster) is this?"), and Luigi Zingales, who studies entrepreneurship and finance ("Preventing economists' capture"). When academics from various specialties research the same issue, it produces a fascinating discussion that differs from the standard public discourse.

A year has passed since we relaunched Capital Ideas. As we wrote in the Summer 2013 issue, we sought to build on the history of the publication, which had grown from a series of selected papers into a newsletter and eventually a magazine. Now, Capital Ideas is not just a print magazine; it offers a variety of formats enabling you to find out about the latest research. We have a website, a monthly online video panel discussion—The Big Question—short documentary films, and a blog. We've also developed a Twitter following, a biweekly research briefing, and a monthly e-newsletter

Some of our highlights of the past year were bittersweet. In the Summer 2013 issue, we printed the final words published by Nobel Laureate Robert W. Fogel before his death 10 days later, an excerpt from his book about his mentor, the economist Simon Kuznets. In the following issue, one of Fogel's students, C. Hoyt Bleakley, wrote about his own teacher's influence.

A highlight was Eugene F. Fama's reflections on his career and the history of finance, which appeared in the Fall 2013 issue, and came out shortly before Fama was awarded the 2013 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences ("A brief history of finance and my life at Chicago"). The Spring 2014 issue featured research by Matthew Gentzkow, who was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in April for his pioneering work on the economics of the media ("Breaking news: Online ads can support good journalism"). 

Part of our role is to facilitate a discussion between readers and researchers, as you'll see from our letters section, with accompanying faculty comments. Please write, email, or call us. We want your voice in the conversation. 

Hal Weitzman
Executive Director, Intellectual Capital
Editor-in-Chief,
Capital Ideas

Emily Lambert
Associate Director, Intellectual Capital
Editor, Capital Ideas