The Rockridge Institute

Updated: Apr 21

by Shanayah Renois (Summer 2018)


Introduction

This project is about the fundamental values of the Rockridge Institute and its members. The key points of the Institute, member contact information, and donors/institutional supporters are included.

 George Lakoff, founder of the Rockridge Institute (source: Wikipedia)
George Lakoff, founder of the Rockridge Institute

The Rockridge Institute was created as a progressive think tank. George Lakoff, a cognitive science and linguistics professor at UC Berkeley, believed that since Conservatives have spent a huge amount of money in think tanks that frame issues in their perspective, then it is very easy for them to convey their ideas to the public in a coherent, credible manner. In order for the public, media, academia, politicians, etc., to understand the basic framework of progressivism, Lakoff believed that Progressives must do the same, and practice framing as well, stating that “Rockridge's job is to reframe public debate, to create balance from a progressive perspective. It's one thing to analyze language and thought, it's another thing to create it...It's a matter of asking 'What are the central ideas of progressive thought from a moral perspective?'” In 2000, he and seven other faculty members at Berkeley and UC Davis founded the Rockridge Institute [1]. The Institute closed in April 2008 [2].


Aside from the other works of George Lakoff, Thinking Points: Communicating our American Values and Visions, is the most important for the understanding of the Rockridge Institute. The manual includes important topics such as framing; biconceptualism; fundamental values (such as freedom, equality, responsibility, etc.); morality; and many other topics that are the cornerstones of the work of the Institute [3].


The Key Points of the Rockridge Institute are [4]:

  • Strength

  • Safety and protection

  • Fulfillment in life

  • Fairness

  • Freedom

  • Opportunity

  • Prosperity

  • Community

  • Cooperation

  • Trust, honesty, and open communication

Participants

Below are the participants of the Rockridge Institute. The hyperlink attached to their names includes a profile with their background, and if that was not available, it includes a link to samples of their writing either about the Rockridge Institute or democracy. The Institute’s website welcomes people to contact their members and that “many members of the staff will remain available for consultations, speaking events, and training for candidates and activists” [1]. It is unclear if this is still the case, given this was listed in 2008, but if an email is listed next to the member, it was provided as a contact information where they can be reached.

International Supporters & Donors

  • The Open Society Institute: “The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people” [1].

  • The Marguerite Casey Foundation: “We imagine a just and equitable society for all, where all children are nurtured to become compassionate, responsible and self-reliant adults; where families are engaged in the life of their communities, the nation, and the world; and where people take responsibility for meeting today’s needs as well as those of future generations” [2].

  • The Moveon Foundation: “MoveOn members have been on the front lines of resistance to Trump and the GOP’s toxic agenda and are building progressive power through advocacy and elections. From national campaigns to local efforts, MoveOn members are making a difference” [3].

  • The Wallace Global Fund: “The mission of the Wallace Global Fund is to promote an informed and engaged citizenry, to fight injustice, and to protect the diversity of nature and the natural systems upon which all life depends” [4].

  • The Nathan Cummings Foundation: “The Nathan Cummings Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities” [5].


References

General Description[1] Powell, Bonnie A. “Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff Tells How Conservatives Use Language to Dominate Politics.” UC Berkeley News. October 27, 2003. Accessed August 10, 2018. https://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff.shtml.[2] “What’s Next?” The Rockridge Institute. May 21, 2008. Accessed August 10, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20080630220525/http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org:80/whats-next. [3] Lakoff, George. Thinking Points: Communicating our American Values and Visions. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006.[4] The Rockridge Institute. “The Progressive Worldview.” The Rockridge Institute. July 22, 2007. Accessed August 20, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20080629215327/http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org:80/projects/strategic/nationasfamily/npworldview. Participants[1] “What’s Next?” The Rockridge Institute. https://web.archive.org/web/20080630220525/http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org:80/whats-next. Institutional Supporters/Donors[1] “Mission & Values,” Open Society Foundations, accessed August 9, 2018, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/about/mission-values. [2] “Our Mission,” Marguerite Casey Foundation, accessed August 9, 2018, https://www.caseygrants.org/who-we-are/our-mission/. [3] “Our Impact,” MoveOn, accessed August 9, 2018, https://front.moveon.org/our-impact/?utm_source=front&utm_content=nav. [4] “Our Mission,” Wallace Global Fund, accessed August 9, 2018, http://wgf.org/about-us-2/. [5] “Mission Statement,” The Nathan Cummings Foundation, accessed August 9, 2018, http://www.nathancummings.org/about-the-foundation/mission-statement.


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