Millennials are catching a lot of heat these days. The stereotype, in the grand tradition of old people rolling their eyes at young people (and barely worth repeating), is that they're whiny, entitled, coddled, and distracted. Except that they're not. These 30, at least—and many others we know—are clear-minded, self-directed, nobly intentioned, action-oriented, extraordinarily motivated—and crazy bright. These 30, in fact, stand as symbols of hope for the future. Pacific Standard presents the top young thinkers in economics, education, political science, and more.
Our Pacific Standard feature package is currently available on newsstands and to subscribers and will be posted online throughout the month of March, with one new profile going up every day. Until then, an excerpt:
Over the process of interviewing a batch of astonishing minds like this, themes emerge. Imagination is first among them. It's a word we heard over and over—for these folks, devotion to it is close to religion. There's also a deep awareness of alternate lives they could have lived, for better and for worse.
And then there's the word "interdisciplinary." Smart young people are bucking the notion that they need to specialize in just one thing. They recognize that dipping into other fields gives them their best shot at making history. This list is full of polymaths, including an astrophysicist who is also a children's book author and a food entrepreneur and a policy scholar.
Whatever they majored in during college—if, in fact, they even went to college—these powerful thinkers are all focused on some aspect of social justice and activism. Like many, they're eager to see real change. But what sets them apart is that they are actually making that change happen. Their research moves society forward. They are poised to alter the dialogue.
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