ROBERT D. PUTNAM is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. He has received numerous scholarly honors, including the Skytte Prize, the most prestigious global award in political science, and the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities.
He has written fourteen books, translated into twenty languages. He consults widely with national leaders, including the last three American presidents, the last three British prime ministers, and the last French president, as well as leaders from Germany, Finland, Singapore, Ireland, Australia and grassroots activists around the world. 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.
The Saguaro Seminar's mission is both to improve social capital measurement and the availability of social capital data and to undertake analysis of building social capital in a changing environment: in increasingly diverse communities, with changing faith communities, in workplaces, and amidst greater social and civic inequality.
Saguaro is currently researching the impact of economic hard times on social capital and civic engagement, as well as some worrying new evidence of a growing "class gap" among American young people. Children from upper-middle class backgrounds are increasingly well-nested in family, religious, and community networks, whereas kids from working class backgrounds are increasingly isolated from such connections.
This phenomenon is a compound problem, as both changing family structure and income inequality have had a hand in the demise of equal opportunity and the American Dream.
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Social Sciences, US & Canada (1988)
In 2004 the President of the Italian Republic made him a Commendatore of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity. He was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 2006 and an Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal by the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2003, He was a Marshall Lecturer at the University of Cambridge in 1999 and was honored with the Ithiel de Sola Pool Award and Lectureship of the American Political Science Association.
He has received honorary degrees from Stockholm University (in 1993), Ohio State University (2000), University of Antwerp (also 2000), University of Edinburgh (2003) LUISS Guido Carli University (2011).