The Roots of
Progress

Creating the talent
to power a flourishing progress movement

The Roots of Progress is a nonprofit dedicated to establishing a new philosophy of progress for the 21st century.

Why study progress? The progress of the last few centuries—in science, technology, industry, and the economy—is one of the greatest achievements of humanity. But progress is not automatic or inevitable. We must understand its causes so that we can keep it going, and even accelerate it.

We need a new philosophy of progress. In order to make progress, we must believe that it is possible and desirable. The 19th century believed in the power of technology and industry to better humanity, but in the 20th century, this belief gave way to skepticism and distrust.

We need a new way forward. We need a systematic study of progress, so we can understand what is needed to keep progress going. We also need to advocate for progress. We need a progress movement that both explains and champions these ideas and puts forth a vision that inspires us to build.

Read more about the progress movement

Fellowship

The Roots of Progress Fellowship is a career accelerator program to empower intellectual entrepreneurs for progress.

Our goal is to empower writers who want to make a career out of explaining progress to a large, general audience. Ultimately, we will help these intellectuals achieve two ambitious goals:

  1. Be able to sustain themselves as full-time progress intellectuals after this 2–4 year program, by developing a personal brand and sources of revenue to support their work, and
  2. Write a book or create an equivalent, thematically unified body of work (e.g., a series of essays or blog posts, a scripted podcast series, or a multi-episode documentary) that brings an important topic in progress studies to a general audience.

This is a strategy for the age of online media. In the Internet age, the writer is the brand, and the best writers are going independent. Instead of hiring staff researchers to write under our brand, The Roots of Progress helps writers build individual brands. Because these writers are independent, they’ll have the intellectual freedom to say what they think, without toeing a party line: we want to foster a culture of debate within the broad principles of progress, humanism, and agency that are the core of the progress movement. This is a high-leverage play: we invest in people for a limited time and their work pays dividends for progress (and for themselves) for years to come.

What people are saying

“ROP can play a pivotal role in movement building. You can scout talented youngsters, like a kid in rural Ireland who cares a lot about the ideas of progress and growth. Right now, she might go into management consulting because she doesn’t realize the other paths available to her–when she could become an intellectual entrepreneur and change the world. You can make that real for these kids and create a path. ROP could be the talent incubator, bringing people in. WIP is the place where we present these ideas to 100K people, and then IFP takes the now popularized idea and makes it public policy agenda and ultimately law, but ROP is acting as the engine, building the next generation of talent.

Sam Bowman, Works in Progress
“We talk a lot about talent. We tend to forget professionalization. IHS has long been helping scholars build careers. ROP could do the same for public intellectuals, teaching them the business of the marketplace of ideas.”
Jason Canon, Institute for Humane Studies

“It’s not clear how a young college student would find progress studies, even if they would be excited about it. There’s just not a career path. Could ROP help them self-identify and let them explore and discover that they have the skills to go down that path? Could we make this a real career track? Maybe some of these young people could become research assistants for people like me—I would love to have someone who has context on the progress movement and understands what we are out to achieve. They would be more productive for me than a typical student research assistant who hasn’t considered these ideas independently.”

Eli Dourado, Center for Growth and Opportunity

“I’d love to be part of a team. I have that in my PhD program, and it makes the journey so much more enjoyable. It would be great to have a cohort of progress writers to provide feedback, to work on joint projects, and to learn across domains. This could be virtual, but having options for meetups one or twice a year would be nice too.”

Jeremy Côté, PhD student in quantum physics
The 2024 Blog-Building Intensive is now open for applications
The 8-week online program runs from August 15th to October 20th.
Apply now

Team

Jason Crawford

Founder & President

Jason is recognized as a leading thinker in the progress movement. He started writing about progress in 2017. He has written for the MIT Technology Review, been interviewed as a spokesman for the movement by BBC and Vox, and given guest lectures at MIT. He is a Founding Fellow at the Cosmos Institute, an advisor to fellows at the Foresight Institute, and a former consultant for Our World in Data. Over 20,000 subscribers receive his email newsletter. Vox named him to their “Future Perfect 50” list alongside Will MacAskill, Jennifer Doudna, and Max Tegmark. He has received grants for his work from the Mercatus Center and Open Philanthropy.

Heike Larson

VP of Programs

Heike is an executive with 25+ years of strategy, product development, talent development, sales and marketing experience across industries. She honed her business skills in 8 years at global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where she also led recruiting of top talent for the Chicago and German offices. After getting her pilot’s license, she joined Cirrus Aircraft as a flying sales person and quickly took over the Western US sales team for the fast-growing company. In the decade prior to joining ROP, Heike became immersed in the challenge of bringing better education to US children, leading the growth of a network of Montessori schools across the US, and then heading up the team of writers and storytellers that establishing ed-tech company Mystery Science as the leading K-5 science curriculum in the US. Growing up in divided Germany, during her frequent visits to the impoverished East, Heike experienced how progress and abundance are not guaranteed; she is excited to create a new generation of intellectual entrepreneurs to build a flourishing progress movement.

Emma McAleavy

Emma McAleavy

Program Operations & Community Manager

Emma is a program manager, marketing leader, and writer with 10+ years of experience. She cut her teeth in the Global Marketing Organization at Microsoft before heading to Mexico as a Fulbright Fellow. After Fulbright, Emma’s long-standing passion for journalism led her to The New York Times where she got to witness and participate in the crucial work of The Paper of Record. While the New York media world excelled at transcribing the events of the day, Emma observed a dearth of Big Ideas about how to solve the thorniest problems facing modern civilization. A desire to work on solutions led Emma to a series of startups in the healthcare, e-commerce, and blockchain industries. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t until encountering the Progress Studies movement, that Emma finally found the problem solvers she was looking for. Now, she is excited to support the work of pioneering Progress Studies writers and thinkers.

Fellowship Sponsors

The Roots of Progress Blog-Building Intensive is a program organized and funded by The Roots of Progress, a 501(c)(3) public educational charity, with funding from a group of individual and organizational donors. To support this and other programs, visit our support page.

We also are grateful for our Progress Blog-Building Intensive program sponsors who enable us to offer this program free of charge:

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Cosmos Institute is creating a philosophical movement to connect the principles of human flourishing with the future of technology and AI.