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Connections – Summer 2006: A Review of KF Research

Connections is a yearly (previously biannual) periodical published by the Kettering Foundation featuring articles devoted to a theme. Each issue of the foundation’s annual newsletter focuses on a particular area of Kettering’s research and contains articles, feature stories, and book reviews relevant to the foundation’s work. Editing responsibilities for Connections rotate among Kettering program staff.

The Summer 2006 edition shares “A Review of Kettering Foundation Research“.  Below is an excerpt from the introduction…

Reviews normally end with conclusions—often definite ones like this movie wasn’t any good but that one was a smash hit. Conclusions from the 2006 review were not summary judgments, but were more important. We left the retreat even more convinced that telling a whole or coherent story of how democracy works and the public’s role in it is essential. We also left the meeting with a sense of urgency about telling a coherent story. Democracy is proving to be quite fragile, and authoritarianism is already threatening to reverse gains made in the 1980s and 1990s. Even in stable democracies like the United States, citizens are increasingly worried that we are losing our sense of community and that our political system is so polarized that it is becoming dysfunctional. People say that they don’t know what to do or where to go in order to act on their concerns. Even more serious, the belief that they can and should make a difference is being contested everywhere. That means that the main assumption behind the foundation’s research—the assumption that citizens are capable of self-rule—will have to be justified in future research. It can’t be taken for granted.

Because of this sense of urgency, this year’s review is still going on. The three objectives set in January are being incorporated into the way the foundation operates. We have come to appreciate the necessity of keeping a constant eye on what is happening to democracy around the world, not just giving it a glance every 36 months. The countermovements promoting various forms of civic engagement are proving to be more than just potential collaborators: The various concepts of democracy they promote are helping us understand the long-range consequences of various options for strengthening our political system. Reading the case reports of insights is giving us a better idea of what we ought to be listening for and reporting on. Perhaps most important of all, we have recognized that review and reflection have to be ongoing if we are to make sense of the whole of our work. And so we have prepared this issue of Connections to invite you to join us in this effort.

– David Mathews, President of the Kettering Foundation

…along with the contents of the newsletter…

Contents of the Summer 2006 Edition

Reviewing a Review
David Mathews

Sidelining Citizens, Privatizing the Public
Keith Melville

The Problem of Moral Disagreement and the Necessity of Democratic Politics
Noëlle McAfee

A Movement to Revitalize Democracy in America
Carmen Sirianni and Lewis A. Friedland

Civic Initiatives in American Democracy
Peter Levine

Five Emerging Practices in the Scholarship of Engagement
Derek Barker

Bridging the Divide Between the Public and Government
Phillip Lurie and Alice Diebel

Owensboro Revisited
Tony Wharton

A Different Kind of Politics, with a Long Tradition
Nicholas V. Longo

This edition of the newsletter is currently available as a free download from the Kettering Foundation website.

Resource Link: http://kettering.org/periodicals/connections-summer-2006/

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