Future of Illinois Project

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The Future of Illinois Project aims to address a serious problem that affects government at all levels: the difficulty of focusing on the future. We are convening demographers, historians, political scientists, social activists, futurists, and business leaders to peer out over the horizon and assess fundamental challenges facing Illinois from now until 2050.

We invite Illinoisans to submit essays that outline the state’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and offer a specific action agenda for the state. We seek input from constitutional officers, members of the General Assembly, mayors, academics, business and labor leaders, philanthropists, and citizens, including high school and college students. We will compile these responses in a State of Illinois Report that will provide an important benchmark for discussions about the future.

Essays should be between 1,000 and 5,000 words and should be submitted as an MS Word or plain text document to paulsimoninstitute@siu.edu by March 1, 2022. We will carefully review all essays as we compile the State of Illinois Report.

The following questions can help guide your thinking:


  • What are Illinois' inherent strengths?
  • What are the state's unique resources and advantages?
  • What qualities about Illinois do other states most respect and admire?


  • What factors within the state's control can be improved?
  • What qualities or characteristics of Illinois do other states regard as its weaknesses?


  • What opportunities are available to Illinois?
  • What positive trends can the state take advantage of?
  • What weaknesses can be minimized or even transformed into strengths?


  • What external trends or challenges will be difficult for the state to surmount?
  • What developments in other states or regions will adversely affect Illinois?

Your Agenda

  • Please outline your agenda for Illinois. Feel free to be as specific or broad as you wish.

If you have questions, email paulsimoninstitute@siu.edu or call 618/453-4009.

The Institute will host a Future of Illinois Conference in the fall of 2022 that is guided by our State of Illinois Report. Sign up for our emails to be notified of conference details as they are set.