« what language to study | Main | civil society and social knowledge »

December 2, 2009

at the Kettering Foundation

(Dayton, OH) I am here for a board meeting of the Kettering Foundation. I remember when I first arrived in Dayton: the summer of 1987 when I was 20. I came for a summer internship at Kettering. It was my first substantive job (apart from babysitting and cleaning a health club), my first summer with my own apartment, and my first time off the East Coast of the United States--although Dayton, an automotive city, turned out to have very much in common with my birthplace of Syracuse, NY. I was strongly reminded of that first summer because last night was Kettering's annual holiday dinner, to which current and retired staff are invited. Most of the people I worked with in 1987 were at last night's dinner.

The Kettering experience was formative for me. You could describe it as an experience in "deliberative democracy," but I'd define the Foundation's perspective differently. I would say that Kettering is fundamentally populist. There is a deep commitment to the idea that all people are fully capable of self-government. Barriers to popular self-government, including spurious claims to expertise, need to be challenged. Yet for the public to govern well, we have to do things. We have to evaluate the quality of public dialog and public work and take steps to improve it. Deliberation, in the form of the National Issues Forums that the Kettering Foundation launched, is just one means to that end.

December 2, 2009 8:57 AM | category: populism | Comments



Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

Site Meter