Social and Emotional Development

Aspen Institute Launches National Commission Advocating Social and Emotional Development

The nonprofit Aspen Institute has launched a National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development. The commission will advance a new vision for what constitutes success in schools: the full integration of social, emotional and academic development to ensure every student is prepared to thrive in school and in life.

Composed of leaders from education, science, government and the private sector, the commission reflects a wide range of perspectives and experiences. It includes two sitting governors — the current chair and vice chair of the National Governors Association —  two leading school superintendents, a Google executive, a university chancellor and a retired four-star Air Force general.

The commission will be co-chaired by Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute and an emeritus professor at Stanford University; John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable and former three-term governor of Michigan; and Tim Shriver, co-founder and chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning and chairman of the Special Olympics.

“This national commission represents the Aspen Institute at its best — convening leaders from different fields and philosophies to address one of America’s most vexing challenges,” said institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson in a statement. “We know from human history and the latest learning science that success comes from the combination of academic knowledge and the ability to work with others. We need public education to reflect this broader definition of success, and this commission is well positioned to point the way.”

The commission will convene its first meeting in November. Over the next two years, the commission will hold field hearings, conduct site visits and solicit expert testimony. It will engage educators, community and civic leaders and policymakers in re-framing what a successful K–12 education entails and will chart a course to get there.

The commission will release its final “Report to the Nation” in late 2018. Some of the commissioners include:

The Aspen is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The institute is based in Washington, D.C. and has campuses in Aspen, CO and on the Wye River in Maryland. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].