Robert Putnam is a leading expert on the topic of inequality and opportunity in America, and he is coming to Pensacola to share his ideas and solutions for diminishing the opportunity gap for today’s youth.
WSRE’s Public Square Speakers Series, in partnership with Studer Community Institute, will host a lecture by Putnam at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, in the WSRE Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio at Pensacola State College. Admission is FREE, and online registration is required at wsre.org/speakers.
Putnam is a public policy professor at Harvard University and a bestselling author. Among his most notable publications are Making Democracy Work and Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.
His latest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, chronicles the growing gap in opportunity for American youth and offers a groundbreaking examination of why fewer Americans today have the chance for upward mobility—the chance to work hard, achieve success and live lives better than those of previous generations.
Putnam’s research looks at whether youth coming from different social and economic backgrounds have roughly equal life chances and how that has changed in recent decades—how the opportunity gap has widened and why.
His findings support the claim that the American Dream is failing and that America can address this national crisis through change that is both bottom-up and top-down to offer more opportunity to all American children.
In Our Kids, Putnam says, “This is not the first time in our national history that widening socio-economic gaps have threatened our economy, our democracy and our values. The specific responses we have pursued to successfully overcome these challenges and restore opportunity have varied in detail, but underlying them all was a commitment to invest in other people’s children. And underlying that commitment was a deeper sense that those kids, too, were our kids…for America’s poor kids do belong to us and we to them.”
“Last year Dr. Dana Suskind of the University of Chicago came to Pensacola to share the story of her work in early learning. Her talk was the spark that’s focused Pensacola on building America’s First Early Learning City,” says Quint Studer, founder of Studer Community Institute. “WSRE is fueling that spark by hosting Dr. Putnam in our community. It’s also another example of why WSRE is a vital community resource.
“Dr. Putnam’s work and book is another important step in making sure we increase the school readiness of all of our children, an investment that research shows can lead to less crime, higher wages and a better quality of life for everyone in Pensacola.”
The Studer Community Institute is coordinating registration and providing a copy of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis for the first 100 people who register.