Arts & Humanities

‘How We Can Renew America’

‘Bowling Alone’ author Robert D. Putnam will discuss how the United States can recover its sense of community during a Feb. 6 lecture at Texas A&M.
By Texas A&M University Research Communications and Public Relations January 31, 2019

President Barack Obama presents a 2012 National Humanities Medal to political scientist and professor Robert Putnam.
President Barack Obama presents a 2012 National Humanities Medal to political scientist and professor Robert Putnam.

Pete Marovich/Getty Images


By a three-to-one margin, most Americans believe the United States is heading in the wrong direction. To understand why, acclaimed political scientist Robert D. Putnam has examined more than a century of U.S. history and discovered significant lessons toward renewing the nation’s sense of community.

Putnam will present his research during a lecture titled “Past as Prologue: How We Got Here and How We Can Renew America,” on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., in the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Conference Center on the Texas A&M University campus. He is the author of the influential 2001 book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.”

Over the last 120 years, Putnam says, the nation’s social pendulum has swung from an “I” society to a “we” society and back to an “I” society. The challenge for the United States, Putnam says, is not to celebrate a past that the nation can never recreate, but rather to seek lessons from history to create a new, more diverse, and more encompassing sense of “we” for the 21st century.

Admission is free to the general public. To register for the event, visit

A reception will follow the lecture. The event is co-sponsored by the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study and the College of Liberal Arts, both at Texas A&M. As a Hagler Faculty Fellow, Class of 2018-19, Putnam will collaborate with faculty and students in the College of Liberal Arts.

John L. Junkins, founding director of the Hagler Institute, said, “Robert Putnam is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential political scientists of our time. His books on social science have the rare distinction of being highly regarded among his academic peers while also topping the nation’s bestseller lists. We are honored to co-host his lecture with the College of Liberal Arts, and we encourage the public to take advantage of this renowned author and speaker coming to Texas A&M.”

Putnam is the Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a 2018-19 Faculty Fellow of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M. His research has encompassed an array of topics, including religion in society, the fall and revival of American community and opportunity gaps with respect to achieving the American dream. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a past president of the American Political Science Association. He holds the Johan Skytte Prize, the highest award a political scientist can attain, and received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2012.

About the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study: The Hagler Institute for Advanced Study was established in December 2010 by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents to build on the growing academic reputation of Texas A&M and to provide a framework to attract top scholars from throughout the nation and abroad for appointments of up to a year. The selection of Faculty Fellows initiates with faculty nominations of National Academies and Nobel Prize-caliber scholars who align with existing strengths and ambitions of the University. To learn more, visit

About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $905.4 million in fiscal year 2017, ranking Texas A&M in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey (2017). Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit

Media contact: Rusty Cawley, Research Communications and Public Relations, Division of Research, 979-458-1475,

Related Stories

Recent Stories