Next System Studies

Next System Studies logo (contact Ben Manski for permissions)

This is a transitional period in world history. State socialism and corporate capitalism appear to be past their end dates. New systems of societal organization are coming. But what will those systems bring?

Next system studies necessarily involve research into questions of systemic design, change, and movements – or put another way, “where are we going, how will we get there, and what must we do to get there?”

As a new area or study, one purpose of next system studies is to establish space, resources, and recognition for scholarship and public engagement on next system questions. Another is influencing and to some extent reorienting established disciplines around next system questions. Thus, next system scholarship involves: 

  • Production of practical knowledge of use to policymakers, communities, activists, and others about systemic design, change, and movements;
  • Community engaged research uniting practitioners, students, and senior scholars in collaborative work; and,
  • The raising of new cohorts of community leaders, policymakers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, managers, academics, and other specialists educated in the methodology and theory of next system studies.

To these ends, current priorities for next system research and teaching at George Mason University include:

  • Democratizing NOVA (DNOVA), a 10 year project of community engaged research dedicated to hastening the transition of northern Virginia to a society that is truly sustainable, democratic, and just.
  • Next System coursework offered in 2021/2022, a new Next System Fellows cohort in the Spring of 2022 as part of the Arlington Fellows program at GMU's Arlington campus.
  • The Next System Studies Initiative, inspired by the success of our April 21st "The Next System System and Academy" launch, is building a global interdisciplinary network of academic and community-based scholars through workshops, conferences, teach-ins, publications, and collaborative research projects.



Video: "The Next System and the Academy"

Video: "The Next System and the Academy"

On Wednesday, April 21st, 2021, hundreds of leading policymakers, innovators, community organizers, and academics came together to take up the challenge of preparing our society for a transition to a system that provides the best outcomes for all. "The Next System and the Academy: Systemic Crises, Movements, and Change in the 2020s," featured keynote speaker U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (2nd CD, WI), Kali Akuno (Cooperation Jackson), Dr. Gar Alperovitz (Democracy Collaborative), Dr. Amy Best (George Mason University), Dr. Diane Fujino (UC Santa Barbara), Peter Knowlton (UE General President, retired), Dr. Ben Manski (George Mason University), and Mike Strode (U.S. Solidarity Economy Network).

Read More
Leading the Way in Next System Studies

Leading the Way in Next System Studies

"To borrow from Lev Tolstoy, ‘What then must society do?’ Or to paraphrase Gar Alperovitz, ‘system change is coming; what kind of system do we want and how do we get there?’ These are the questions at the center of next system studies.” 

Read More