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About the book

The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future is for people who care deeply about their communities and their country but worry about problems that endanger their future and that of their children. Jobs are disappearing, or the jobs people want aren’t available. Health care costs keep going up, and the system seems harder to navigate. Many worry that our schools aren’t as good as they should be. The political system is mired in hyperpolarization. Citizens feel pushed to the sidelines.

Rather than giving in to despair and cynicism, some Americans are determined to have a stronger hand in shaping their future. Suspicious of big reforms and big institutions, they are starting where they are with what they have.

This book is also for governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as educational institutions and libraries that are trying to engage these citizens. Their efforts aren’t stopping the steady erosion of public confidence, so they are looking for a different kind of public participation.

About the author

David Mathews is a husband, father, grandfather, gardener, and a member of the Clark County Historical Society. Although a nonpartisan independent, he served as a Cabinet officer in the Ford administration (Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare). He is the former president of the University of Alabama, where he taught history. Now president of a research organization, the Kettering Foundation, he writes books like Politics for People, which has been translated into eight languages. He doesn’t sail or ski and has no musical talents, but his dog loves him.

About the Kettering Foundation

The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation. The foundation seeks to identify and address the challenges to making democracy work as it should through interrelated program areas that focus on citizens, communities, and institutions. Guiding Kettering’s research are three hypotheses. Kettering’s research suggests that democracy requires: responsible citizens who can make sound choices about their future; communities of citizens acting together to address common problems; and institutions with public legitimacy that contribute to strengthening society. The foundation collaborates with an extensive network of community groups, professional associations, researchers, scholars, and citizens around the world. Established in 1927 by inventor Charles F. Kettering, the foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that does not make grants but engages in joint research with others.