Notre Dame Forum features exclusive screening of ‘Join or Die’; conversation with Robert Putnam, author of ‘Bowling Alone’

Author: Notre Dame News

A headshot of Robert Putnam

Join or Die,” a film exploring Robert Putnam’s groundbreaking research on why you should join a club and why the fate of America depends on it, will be screened Wednesday (Feb. 21) as part of the 2023-24 University of Notre Dame Forum on “The Future of Democracy.” Following the screening, Putnam will join David Campbell, the Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy at Notre Dame and newly named director of the University’s Democracy Initiative, for a discussion moderated by Jaimie Bleck, associate professor of political science.

The event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in Jordan Auditorium in the Mendoza College of Business, and is free and open to the public.

The film is based on Putnam’s book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” which explores the nation’s decades-long decline in community connections and the related threats to democracy in the U.S. With commentary from influential leaders and scholars, the film explores three urgent civic questions: What makes democracy work? Why is American democracy in crisis? And, most importantly, what can we do about it? The documentary has been screened at South by Southwest, the Denver Film Festival and the Tallgrass Film Festival.

“We welcome Robert Putnam to campus for this important conversation about the health of our communities and the future of U.S. democracy,” University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “In a time of great polarization, it has never been more important for us to consider how to build relationships with those who have different perspectives and experiences, for the sake of our own flourishing and that of our nation.”

The emeritus Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy and former dean of Harvard University’s Kennedy School, Putnam is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the British Academy and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006 Putnam received the Skytte Prize, the world’s highest accolade for a political scientist, and in 2013 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities, for “deepening our understanding of community in America.”

The author of 15 books, he has advised three American presidents as well as three British prime ministers. He co-founded the Saguaro Seminar, which brings together leading thinkers and practitioners to develop practical ideas for civic renewal.

This event is part of this year’s Notre Dame Forum and is co-sponsored by the Notre Dame Democracy Initiative, the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy and the Department of Political Science.

Since its establishment in 2005 by Father Jenkins, the Notre Dame Forum has each year invited campus-wide dialogue about an issue of importance to the University, the nation and the world. This year’s Forum invites reflection on the rising threats to global democracy and how democracy can be reinvigorated in the U.S. and across the world.