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Putnam, Robert D.

Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. He is  also Visiting Professor and Director of the Manchester Graduate Summer Programme in Social Change, University of Manchester (UK). Professor Putnam is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006, Putnam received the Skytte Prize, one of the world's highest accolades for a political scientist. 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. He has written a dozen books, translated into seventeen languages, including 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. His previous 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 in the last several decades.

He consults widely with national leaders, including US Presidents Bush and Clinton, British Prime Ministers Blair and Brown, and Ireland's Bertie Ahern. He founded the Saguaro Seminar, bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners to develop actionable ideas for civic renewal.

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.


For a complete list of faculty citations from 2001 - present, please visit the Harvard Kennedy School Research Report Online.

Selected Publication Citations

  • Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles
    • Lim, Chaeyoon, and Robert D. Putnam. "Religion, Social Networks, and Life Satisfaction." American Sociological Review 75.6 (December 2010): 914-933.
    • Lim, Chaeyoon, Carol Ann MacGregor, and Robert D. Putnam. "Secular and Liminal: Discovering Heterogeneity Among Religious Nones." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49.4 (December 2010): 596–618.
  • Books
    • Putnam, Robert D., and David E. Campbell. American Grace: How Religion is Reshaping our Religious and Political Lives. Simon and Schuster, 2010.
    • Clark, Tom, Robert D. Putnam, and Edward Fieldhouse. The Age of Obama: The Changing Place of Minorities in British and American Society. University of Manchester Press, 2010.
  • Commentary
    • Putnam, Robert D. "With Libya's Megalomaniac 'Philosopher-King'." Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2011.
    • Campbell, David E., and Robert D. Putnam. "Charity's Religious Edge." Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2010.
    • Campbell, David E., and Robert D. Putnam. "Religious People are 'Better Neighbors'." USA Today, November 15, 2010.
    • Putnam, Robert D., and David E. Campbell. "Walking Away from Church." Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2010.
    • Bush, Jeb, and Robert D. Putnam. "A Better Welcome for Our Nation's Immigrants." Washington Post, July 3, 2010.


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