Dr. Robin Lauermann, Professor of Politics and International Relations & Chair of History, Politics, and International Relations, serves as editor for this series


(This post is the first of a set on Robert Putnam’s The Upswing.  Click to learn more about the segment and the series, From the Field.)

Conversation in our capstone course this semester has been full thus far!  Students have asked really compelling questions and exemplified the kinds of interactions that would serve our public sphere – civil, pressing and willing to move beyond pat responses to tough issues.  This collaborative and engaged dialogue has pushed each of us, myself included, to re-evaluate ideas and conclusions.

In our second book of the course, we tackle a long-time theme of whether and how we can balance individualism and common interest within culture and our political decisions.  To do so, we examined the latest work of Harvard political scientist, Robert Putnam – see this prior post in our sister series Tocqueville Capital for more about Putnam and his work.  In The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, Putnam lays out the case against pure individualist and collectivist approaches, calling for a rebalancing of the I and We in a way that builds mutual trust and improves our ability to solve key issues.  Building understanding has helped to build relationships – the lynchpin of what Putnam’s work has addressed from its very beginning.

Read on for the distinct and thoughtful insights that students have written!


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