Robert D. Putnam is Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and is also Visiting Professor and Director of the Manchester Graduate Summer Programme in Social Change, University of Manchester (UK). Putnam has written a dozen books, translated into 17 languages, on issues of American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and public policy. Among them are the best-selling Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and more recently Better Together: Restoring the American Community, a study of promising new forms of social connectedness. Another book, Making Democracy Work, was praised by the Economist as “a great work of social science, worthy to rank alongside de Tocqueville, Pareto and Weber.” Both Making Democracy Work and Bowling Alone rank high among the most cited publications in the social sciences worldwide over the past several decades.
As part of his follow-up to Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam launched the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, a program that brought together leading practitioners and thinkers over several years to develop broad-scale, but actionable, ideas to fortify U.S. civic connectedness. In 2006, Putnam received the Skytte Prize, one of the world’s highest accolades for a political scientist.
Putnam has also held positions or affiliations with the National Security Council, the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has consulted extensively with the Bush and Clinton administrations, with the Blair government, and with government leaders from New Zealand to Sweden. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy and the American Philosophical Society, and past president of the American Political Science Association. Raised in a small town in the Midwest and educated at Swarthmore, Oxford, and Yale, he has served as Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
His earlier work included research on comparative political elites, Italian politics, and globalization. Before coming to Harvard in 1979, he taught at the University of Michigan and served on the staff of the National Security Council. He is currently working on three major empirical projects: (1) the changing role of religion in contemporary America, (2) the effects of workplace practices on family and community life, and (3) practical strategies for civic renewal in the United States in the context of immigration and social and ethnic diversity. Following the work inBowling Alone, he has studied the relationship between trust and ethnic diversity within communities. In 2010 he published “Still Bowling Alone? The Post-9/11 Split” in the Journal of Democracy and co-authored the book The Age of Obama: The Changing Place of Minorities in British and American Society, with Tom Clark.