Renewing America

The United States is facing an array of domestic and international challenges. To succeed, it must strengthen its foundations at home. The Council on Foreign Relations is studying nine critical issues that will determine the country's ability to shape a dynamic, competitive, and demanding world.




An educated citizenry and high-skilled workforce are critical to maintaining the United States’ economic edge. The United States has fallen behind its peers in K–12 schooling and today’s education models aren’t delivering the skills students need for the future.

United States

Higher education provides students many socioeconomic benefits and increases the global competitiveness of the United States, but mounting student loan debt has sparked a debate over federal lending policies.

Defense and Security

Energy and Climate Change

The effects of climate change, including the increase in wildfires, severe storms, and other extreme weather events, require the United States to shift to cleaner forms of energy, to become more energy efficient, and to improve resilience through adaptation.

Climate Change

International efforts, such as the Paris Agreement, aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say countries aren’t doing enough to limit dangerous global warming.

Climate Change

Climate Change

COVID-19 exposed the world’s failure to prepare for the worst—can we learn to build back better?
Future of Work

Rapid technological changes and automation are dramatically changing the nature of work. U.S. economic competitiveness hinges on the ability of U.S. workers to adapt to new modes of employment.

Labor and Employment

Election 2020

Green jobs are booming. But what are they? And how can the United States prepare for the future this shift in technologies will bring?

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Panelists discuss the changing nature of America’s workforce and the urgency to reskill workers exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including issues around automation, labor markets, and the future of remote work. CFR’s Renewing America initiative shines a spotlight on the domestic underpinnings of U.S. competitiveness to find ways to raise living standards at home and bolster American international influence. Check out the CFR Independent Task Force Report, The Work Ahead: Machines, Skills, and U.S. Leadership in the Twenty-First Century.

The United States’ ability to attract talent from around the world remains one of its core strengths. Outdated and cumbersome immigration rules weaken this economic advantage as workforce mismatches grow and millions of U.S. residents are left in limbo.

Immigration and Migration

CFR’s Home and Abroad Series Public Forum explores migration trends and the many questions confronting U.S. immigration policy, including but not limited to our southern border.


Comprehensive immigration reform has eluded Congress for years, moving controversial policy decisions into the executive and judicial branches of government.


For decades, international students have enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States, with strong consensus that they fuel American innovation, job creation, and competitiveness. But in recent years, their access to U.S. colleges and universities has come under threat, and other nations are seizing the opportunity to bring in the world’s brightest students.

U.S. infrastructure lags behind that of its peers in international rankings. Major investments are needed to both upgrade U.S. infrastructure and adapt it for a changing climate.


The U.S. Congress has approved the largest federal investment in infrastructure in decades. Here’s why infrastructure matters for U.S. economic competitiveness. 


It is time for the federal government to exercise its existing authority to regulate the cybersecurity of pipelines.

United States

Panelists discuss major potential reforms to U.S. infrastructure, including new technological advances in transportation, traditional and digital infrastructure, universal broadband, smart cities, and how investment in U.S. infrastructure could catalyze economic growth. CFR’s Renewing America initiative shines a spotlight on the domestic underpinnings of U.S. competitiveness to find ways to bolster U.S. international strength and influence. This project is made possible by the generous support of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation.     

The United States has led the world in innovation, research, and technological development since World War II, but its primacy is now being challenged by China and other countries. Maintaining U.S. dominance in emerging technologies is critical for economic and national security.

Technology and Innovation


To compete with China's Belt and Road, the U.S. should focus on R&D, immigration, technology, and trade.


To avoid falling behind the rest of the world on internet speed and access, the United States should rapidly deploy fiber-optic internet nationwide with a policy of "open access." 
Politics and Political Institutions

A well-functioning political system is necessary for advancing competitive economic policies. Political division and democratic backsliding in the United States hamper its ability to project power abroad.

Election 2020

America is one country and two nations. They will have to coexist; whether they can work together remains to be seen.

United States

Far too little is known about how the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol happened. A bipartisan investigation should address this, to dispel falsehoods and to help prevent such an assault from happening again.


In this special series of The President’s Inbox on the future of democracy, James M. Lindsay speaks with experts to discuss whether and where democratic governance is faltering around the world. This week, Suzanne Mettler, John L. Senior professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University, places the current crisis of American democracy in historical perspective. This episode is part of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy.
Social Justice and Equity

Racial inequality and other forms of social injustice undermine U.S. moral leadership abroad. The United States should renew its commitment to upholding U.S. values at home.


Insufficient leadership, outdated curricula, and alienating school climates leave future foreign policy experts ill prepared to address the social forces contributing to fragility and unrest globally. Transforming U.S. foreign policy requires a comprehensive educational strategy on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Race and Ethnicity

A stronger economy can be achieved by placing women, especially women of color, at the center of legislative framework.

Human Rights

Although LGBTQ+ people in every region of the world face marginalization and repression, their human rights have steadily advanced. The Biden administration has an opportunity to further promote LGBTQ+ rights by asserting them as a foreign policy priority.
Trade and Finance

The United States will have to recalibrate its trade and finance policies to address a range of challenges in the coming years, including rising tensions with China and shifting global supply chains.


Europe holds the key to President Biden's trade agenda. 

Budget, Debt, and Deficits

U.S. lawmakers are at loggerheads over raising the limit on government borrowing. Here’s what to know about the debate.


Supply chains will need to be rethought for a post-pandemic world, with more emphasis on diversification, domestic production, and stockpiling.