University of Pittsburgh
February 18, 2016

The American Dream in Crisis

Pitt hosts renowned public policy expert for a conversation on the decline of American upward mobility and approaches for closing the nation’s equality gap Feb. 22
Contact:  412-624-4147

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PITTSBURGH—The “American Dream,” once a symbol of all that could be attained through hard work and dedication, has become a dream deferred for millions of American citizens, according to internationally regarded public policy expert Robert D. Putnam.

Putnam has dedicated much of his professional career to studying American society and advising world leaders on the economic, social, and Robert D. Putnampolitical challenges facing their nations. The University of Pittsburgh will host him for a discussion on the nation’s decline in upward mobility and the proper approaches needed to close opportunity gaps for the nation’s future generations. The subject matter of the talk is based on the content of Putnam’s latest book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2015).

The address, also titled “Our Kids: The American Dream In Crisis,” will be delivered at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 in Ballroom B of the University Club, 123 University Pl., Oakland. The event is free and open to the public; due to limited seating, registration is requested. This speaking engagement is the 2016 installment of the American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series and is cosponsored by The Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and University Honors College. The event is supported by the University’s Office of the Provost in celebration of the Year of the Humanities in the University.

“The opportunity gap is the most serious domestic issue facing America, and the 2016 presidential election suggests that many Americans are beginning to recognize that,” said Putnam. “Get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success. This is the America I was raised in, a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and effort. However, during the last 30 years, we have seen a disturbing opportunity gap emerge that makes this central tenet of our society seem much less true for millions of our young people. This is unfortunate and inherently un-American.”

Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has provided public policy consultation to President Barack Obama as well as former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Additionally, Putnam has advised the last three prime ministers of Great Britain, and The Sunday Times of London has referred to him as “the most influential academic in the world.”

In 2012, President Obama awarded Putnam the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities, and he was honored with the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, widely considered the most prestigious global award in political science, in 2006. In addition to Our Kids, Putnam has authored 14 previous books on various topics of public policy, including the internationally acclaimed Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

The American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series was created by the late Pitt faculty member Robert G. Hazo to offer Pittsburghers the opportunity to gain insight into political and economic thought with the intent of enlightening the public’s political discourse.