The Grattan Institute, the US Studies Centre, and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government presented Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University Professor Robert Putnam speaking about current trends in civic engagement in America.

The way communities engage with each other individually and collectively impacts profoundly on our democratic structures. Over the last quarter of a century, the United States has noted a perceptible decline in social capital. Contributing to the decline in both bonding and bridging capital include changes to work practices, family structure, longevity, urban living, and information technology. In light of these challenges, is it possible to achieve civic reinvention? What does history tell us?

Professor Robert Putnam, a pioneer of research in social capital, discussed how communities have become increasingly disconnected and how they may reconnect with Jane-Frances Kelly, Program Director - Cities at the Grattan Institute. The event was moderated by John Daley, Chief Executive Officer of the Grattan Institute.

Robert D. Putnam is Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, and Visiting Professor, University of Manchester (UK). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the British Academy, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and past president of the American Political Science Association. He was the 2006 recipient of the Skytte Prize and has served as an adviser to presidents and national leaders around the world.

Putnam's most recent book, American Grace, co-authored with David Campbell of The University of Notre Dame, focuses on the role of religion in American public life. Previous books include Bowling Alone and Making Democracy Work, which are both among the most cited publications in the social sciences in the last half century.