Robert D. Putnam

The American political scientist Robert D. Putnam of Harvard University, Department of Government is Distinguished Visiting Professor at Aarhus University 2013-2014.

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.”

Professor Putnam is regarded as one of the world's most influential social researchers and the leading authority on social capital. According to Professor Gert Tinggard Svendsen, Department of Political Science and Government, Professor Putnam's affiliation with Aarhus University 'will strengthen Aarhus University's academic reputation and position worldwide.  He will be involved in current and future research projects where having him on board will be utterly extraordinary.'

Robert D. Putnam has written fourteen books, translated into twenty languages, including the best-selling Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, and its sequel  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 current French president. 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.

Putnam’s most recent 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.

He is currently working on one major empirical project: Inequality and opportunity:  the growing class gap among American young people and the implications for social mobility.

Office Address:
Kennedy School of Government
997 Memorial Drive
Harvard University Cambridge
Massachusetts 02138
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Telephone (617) 876-9653 and (617) 495-1148

Vital Statistics
Born January 9, 1941, Rochester, New York
US citizen
Married Rosemary Werner Putnam; two children; and six grandchildren.

Swarthmore College, B.A. (Highest Honors), 1963
LL.D. (Honorary), 1990
Oxford University (Balliol College),1963-64
Yale University, M.A., 1965, Ph.D. with distinction, 1970

Honorary doctorates
Stockholm University, 1993
Ohio State University, 2000
University of Antwerp, 2000
University of Edinburgh, 2003
John Cabot University (Rome), 2006
University of Manchester, 2007
Ithaca College, 2009

Academic Career
Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, 2000 -
Stanfield Professor of International Peace, 1996 - 2000
Professor of Government, 1979 -
Harvard University Visiting Professor and Director of the Manchester Graduate Summer Programme in Social Change, University of Manchester, 2006-2011
Dean, John F. Kennedy School of Government and Don K. Price Professor of Politics, Harvard University, 1989 - 1991
Director, Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 1993 - 1996
Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, 1986-1988; 1992-1994
Chairman, Department of Government, Harvard University, 1984-88
Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, 1975-79
(Associate Professor, 1972-75; Assistant Professor, 1970-72; Lecturer, 1968-70)
Visiting Professor of Political Science, University of Catania (Italy), 1977
Visiting Professor of Political Science, Stockholm University (Sweden), 1974
Leverhulme Visiting Professor, Faculty of History and St. Johns College, Cambridge University (England), 2002-03

Selected fellowships and awards
National Humanities Medal, 2012
Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, 2006
Member, American Philosophical Society, 2005 –
Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2001 –
Corresponding [i.e., foreign] Fellow, British Academy, 2001 –
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1980 –
Warren E. Miller Prize, American Political Science Association, "for an outstanding career of intellectual accomplishment and service to the profession in the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior field," 2008.
Charles E. Merriam Award, American Political Science Association, for “published work and career [that] represent a significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research." 2007
Lifetime achievement award, Conference Group on Italian Politics, 2010
Harold Lasswell Fellow, American Academic of Political and Social Science, 2005
Fellow, National Academy of Public Administration, 1989 – 2006
Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal for outstanding career achievement, Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 2003
Awarded honor of Commendatore in the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity by the President of the Italian Republic, 2004
Phi Beta Kappa, 1963 -
Guggenheim Fellow, 1988-89
Marshall Lecturer, University of Cambridge, 1999
Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1974-75; 1988-89
Visiting Fellow, Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, Princeton University, 2006-07
Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1977; 1979
Other fellowships: Fulbright (1964-65; 1977); SSRC-ACLS (1966-68); Ford Foundation (1970); Council on Foreign Relations (1977-78); German Marshall Fund (1979); SSRC-Fulbright (1982); and SSRC-Foreign Policy Studies (1988-89)
Member, Council on Foreign Relations, 1981-
Member, International Institute of Strategic Studies, 1986-
Member, The Trilateral Commission, 1990-1998
Louis Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration (1993);
Gregory Luebbert Award of the American Political Science Association (1994) and Charles H. Levin Award of the International Political Science Association (1994) for Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy.
Ithiel de Sola Pool Award and Lectureship, American Political Science Association, 1995

Professional Service
President, American Political Science Association, 2001-2002; President-Elect, 2000-2001
Vice President, 1997-98, Editorial Boards, American Political Science Review, 1971-76; British Journal of Political Science, 1975-79; International Organization, 1989; Legislative Studies Quarterly, 1983-99; Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2000-2004, Comparative Political Studies, 1982-2005; American Sociological Review, 2004-2008; Critical Review, 2004- ; Journal of Rural Cooperation [Jerusalem], 2006- Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2007-. Assembly of Behavioral and Social Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, 1978-1981, Executive Committee, British Politics Group, 1974-76; 1977-79 President, Conference Group on Italian Politics, 1981-83, Executive Committee, Council on European Studies, 1983-86, Advisory Board, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences, 1987-89, Advisory Council on Environmentally Sustainable Development, World Bank, 1992-96, Advisory Board Member, Westchester (NY) Children’s Museum; Thomas C. Wales, Foundation (Seattle, WA); Anne E. Borghesani Community Foundation (Lexington, MA).

Public Service
Staff Member, U.S. National Security Council, 1978
Member, President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, 2003 – 2005
Member, National Advisory Council to the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, 2006
Occasional consultant, Department of State and Central Intelligence Agency, 1975-1985
World Bank, 1992 – 1998
White House, 1995 –
British government agencies, 2002 –
Irish Taoiseach, 2001 –

Research in Progress
The changing role of religion in contemporary American civic life: A major empirical study, including field studies and national surveys, of how religion influences social life and politics in the US.
Diversity, equality, and community. A major empirical study of how diversity and immigration, social and economic equality, and social capital are related across time and space, especially in the US.
Inequality and Youth Civic Engagement: Initial research on a growing class gap in civic engagement and social connectedness among American young people.
Workplace, family, and community: A collaborative study of how workplace practices affect family and community life, based on a national survey.

Language Competence
Italian (good)
German (fair)

Published books:

  • The Beliefs of Politicians: Ideology, Conflict, and Democracy in Britain and Italy (1973)
  • The Comparative Study of Political Elites (1976)
  • Bureaucrats and Politicians in Western Democracies (with Joel D. Aberbach and Bert A. Rockman, 1981)
  • Hanging Together: Cooperation and Conflict in the Seven-Power Summits (with Nicholas Bayne, 1984, revised 1987)
  • Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games. International Organization. 42 (Summer 1988): 427-460.
  • Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (with Robert Leonardi and Raffaella Nanetti, 1993)
  • Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000)
  • Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society (Edited by Robert D. Putnam), Oxford University Press, (2002)
  • Better Together: Restoring the American Community (with Lewis M. Feldstein, 2003)
  • "E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture."Scandinavian Political Studies 30, no. 2 (June 2007): 137-174.
  • Age of Obama (co-written with Tom Clark and Edward Fieldhouse), Manchester University Press (2010)
  • American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (co-written with David Campbell), Simon & Schuster (2010)

“Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital”, Journal of Democracy , 


On the American society: 


On the significance of social networks: