Best-Selling Author Robert Putnam at Willamette University

According to Robert Putnam, author of the best-selling book, "Bowling Alone," Americans have disconnected from family, friends, neighbors and social and civic organizations at an alarming rate. We have become a nation of loners and according to Putnam, that's not a good thing.

A professor of public policy and dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Putnam will discuss "Community Engagement in a Changing America" Sunday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. in Hudson Hall in the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center at Willamette University. Admission is free and the public is invited.

For his book, Putnam examined nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently and even socialize with our families less often. He found that North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont rank highest on the social interaction scale, and Georgia, Mississippi and Nevada rank the lowest.

The decline in what the author calls social capital has long-term consequences that influence child welfare, housing and neighborhood quality, health and democracy that depends on civic engagement.

Putnam's visit is sponsored by the Lilly Project, the Willamette University Events Board, and the politics and sociology departments of the University.