Full course description

Course Date:





2 hrs/week



Course Type:





Economic opportunity and upward mobility serve as the foundation of the American Dream. However, there is growing evidence that many of today’s students are struggling to advance. Does the American Dream still exist? In examining this question, this course explores the key components of economic mobility and how access to high quality education systems and diverse educational offerings is a key factor in ensuring all students have equal opportunity to climb the economic ladder. Participants will gain insight into the gaps in U.S. education and what actions can be taken to increase the effectiveness of education as a catalyst for economic mobility.

Course Preview:


  • Understand the key concepts of economic mobility in the United States, including: the distinctions between income inequality and mobility, the difference between relative and absolute mobility, and why relative mobility is important.
  • Explore the current state of the U.S. education system, the role education plays in economic mobility, and gaps in educational opportunities and outcomes in the U.S.
  • Examine examples of diverse educational offerings that are critical to ensuring all students have the chance to climb the economic ladder.

Course Instructors

Richard V. Reeves

Richard V. Reeves

Senior Fellow in Economic Studies and Policy Director of the Center on Children and Families, Brookings Institution

Richard V. Reeves is a senior fellow in Economic Studies, policy director of the Center on Children and Families, and editor-in-chief of the Social Mobility Memos blog. His research focuses on social mobility, inequality, and family change. Prior to joining Brookings, he was director of strategy to the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister. Richard earned a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Warwick University.

Claire Voorhees

Claire Voorhees

Director of K-12 Reform, Foundation for Excellence in Education

Previously, Claire worked at HCM Strategists where she provided clients with strategic advice on new approaches to education reform. Claire was also an instructor at Koç University in Istanbul, teaching a comparative course on education rights and policies in the U.S. and Turkey. Before spending time in Turkey, Claire was an associate at Hogan Lovells law firm and served as an associate director in the White House Domestic Policy Council where she assisted senior staff in shaping the Administration’s education policies. Claire began her career as a fourth grade teacher at P.S. 43 in the South Bronx, New York.