Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. 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, the world’s highest accolade for a political scientist, and in 2012, he received the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities. 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. The London Sunday Times has called him “the most influential academic in the world today.”
He has written fourteen books, translated into twenty 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 are among the most cited publications in the social sciences worldwide in the last half century.
He consults widely with national leaders, including the last three American presidents, the last three British prime ministers, and the last French president. He co-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.
Putnam’s 2010 book, American Grace, co-authored with David Campbell of Notre Dame, focuses on the role of religion in American public life. Based on data from two of the most comprehensive national surveys on religion and civic engagement ever conducted, American Grace is the winner of the American Political Science Association’s 2011 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for the best book on government, politics, or international affairs.
Since 2010, he has been focused on one major empirical project: Inequality and opportunity: the growing class gap among American young people and the implications for social mobility. His book on this subject, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis was published in March 2015.
David Campbell (Ph.D., Harvard University, 2002) is the John Cardinal OHara, C.S.C. Associate Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame University, as well as a research fellow with the Institute for Educational Initiatives. His recent book Why We Vote: How Schools and Communities Shape Our Civic Life (Princeton University Press), demonstrates how communities foster civic norms, and how civic norms adopted in adolescence can lead to a lifetime of civic engagement. He is also the editor of A Matter of Faith: Religion in the 2004 Presidential Election (Brookings Institution), a co-author of The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools, and Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Have Undermined Citizenship and What We Can Do About It, as well as co-editor of Charters, Vouchers, and Public Education (all Brookings). In addition to these books, he has published articles in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Public Opinion Quarterly, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, American Politics Research, Education Next, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. He has won awards from the American Political Science Association for the best doctoral dissertation in American politics, the best paper on elections and voting, and (twice) for the best paper on religion and politics at the association’s annual meeting.
Shaylyn Romney Garrett served as a field researcher on many of the congregational close-ups that she then turned into the vignettes of this book.
Shaylyn Romney Garrett received her BA in Government from Harvard University in 2002. She has been working on the American Grace project since its inception, and her writing for the book is her first publication.
She specializes in ethnographic research and writing, and her interests include religiously-inspired social movements, intentional communities, and the complexities of international development and cross-cultural encounters. In addition to writing, she has done extensive work educating and empowering marginalized populations in the United States, including undocumented immigrants and the homeless.
She and her husband are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Jordan, and she is busy writing about her encounter with Islam and her experience of village life in the Middle East.