PS: Political Science & Politics

The Teacher Symposium

Why Students Need to Be Informed about Our Looming Fiscal Crisis: The America's Future Initiative

Andrew L. Yarrowa1 and Cecilia M. Orphana2

a1 Public Agenda and American University

a2 American Democracy Project, American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Despite nearly universal concern about America's rapidly rising national debt, the United States government was $12.5 trillion in debt by the spring of 2010. Yet, few people—including college and university students—understand why we are in debt, what the many effects and dangers could be, the difficult steps necessary to reduce our deficits and debt, and the critical importance of bipartisanship and compromise. Given that young people are the nation's future and knowledge is power, what better place to raise awareness and stimulate discussion than on college campuses?

Andrew L. Yarrow is the vice president and Washington director of Public Agenda and the author of Forgive Us Our Debts: The Intergenerational Dangers of Fiscal Irresponsibility. He teaches modern U.S. history and government at American University, and he is also a project director for Students Face Up to the Nation's Finances. He can be reached at

Cecilia M. Orphan is the national manager for the American Democracy Project at the Association of American State Colleges and Universities. She can be reached at