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Citizens in a Global Society (Connections 2016)

The eight-page article, “Citizens in a Global Society” by David Mathews was published in Kettering Foundation‘s 2016 edition of their annual newsletter, Connections – Kettering’s Multinational Research. This is the initial article in the newsletter that introduces the theme for the whole publication which centers around Kettering’s multi-national work.  Below is an excerpt from the article and Connections 2016 is available for free PDF download on Kettering’s site here.

From the article…

The foundation’s multinational research falls into two broad categories or groups. In the first category, the foundation collaborates with nongovernmental organizations outside the United States that are interested in what Kettering is studying about how people do or don’t become engaged as citizens who exercise sound judgment, the work citizens do in communities to solve problems and educate the young, and productive ways that people can engage large institutions, both governmental and nongovernmental, as those institutions try to engage them. This research is the way the foundation organizes its study of democracy.

At the heart of the word democracy is the demos, or “citizenry,” and Kettering refers to the ways citizens go about their work as “democratic practices.” (Kratos, or “power,” is the other root of democracy.) The democratic practices that Kettering studies require self-responsibility, which can’t be exported or imported. So the focus of our research is on the United States, not other countries. Yet our studies have been greatly enriched by what the foundation has learned from nongovernmental organizations in some 100 other countries spread across the globe.

Organizations in other countries interested in this research come to summer learning exchanges called the Deliberative Democracy Institutes (DDIs) to share their experiences with one another and the foundation. Some of the participants come back to enter Kettering’s multinational residency program, which now has a large alumni group. These alumni often return as faculty for the institutes. Kettering’s second category of multinational research is on citizen diplomacy, and it centers on three countries—Russia, China, and Cuba. The governments in these countries have or have had serious differences with the government in the United States; communications have broken down or been problematic.

The premise of the studies, as the late Hal Saunders, Kettering’s longtime director of international affairs, explained to the New York Times, is that we live in a time when governments face a growing number of problems they cannot deal with alone, so citizens outside government have to fill that void. Citizen diplomacy is not intended to replace or compete with government diplomacy but to supplement it. And from Kettering’s perspective, this research gives the foundation a way to study dangerous conflicts, which are, unfortunately, an inescapable part of politics.

This is just an excerpt, you can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

About Kettering Foundation and Connections
KF_LogoThe Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.

Each issue of this annual newsletter focuses on a particular area of Kettering’s research. The 2016 issue of Connections, edited by KF program officer and senior writer/editor Melinda Gilmore; KF senior associate Philip Stewart; and KF vice president, secretary, and general counsel Maxine Thomas, focuses on our year-long review of our multinational research.

Follow on Twitter: @KetteringFdn

Resource Link: www.kettering.org/sites/default/files/periodical-article/Mathews-2016.pdf

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