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Our Common Purpose: The Complete Collection

In June 2020, the Kluge Center announced Danielle Allen as the winner of the Kluge Prize, launching the Our Common Purpose Campaign for Civic Strength at the Library of Congress. Allen hosted a series of exciting conversations at the Library to explore the nation’s civic life and ways that people from all political beliefs and social causes can build a stronger, more resilient democracy. Each event was accompanied by a workshop for K-12 educators and public librarians, in which teachers from across the country had the opportunity to connect, explore, experiment and create new ways of making civic ideals come to life in their classrooms.

“We all know that this is a critical and urgent moment in our nation’s history,” Allen said in announcing the series. “We have faced crises as a nation before. We can continue to watch and worry and tweet at each other – or we can emerge stronger and more resilient by taking real action now to save our constitutional democracy.”

One year later, we’ve completed the cycle of events and are thrilled to be able to share them with you here. Watch all three public events below, and click the links to read our blog posts that provide some background on each event’s themes as well as posts that pull out some of the highlights from each event.

Using Civic Media to Build a Better Society

Is Civic Media the Antidote to a Polarized World?

Is Civic Media the Answer to Trolls, Misinformation, and Abuse Online?

 

How Political Institutions Shape Outcomes and How We Might Reform Them

Our Common Purpose: Second Event Looks at Reforming Electoral Institutions

Why Reforming Electoral Institutions Might Be the Best Way to Change Policymaking

 

Finding a Shared Historical Narrative

What Makes Americans American? Why Origin Stories Require Negotiation

Wrestling with the Question of American Identity and Whether Consensus is Possible

 

The Pillars of Democracy

The major institutions in American society are in a moment of crisis. From the branches of government to religious and civic organizations, the media, and political parties, these key foundations of American life are less respected, less trusted, and less involved in forming the character of individuals than at any point in our history. The […]

Visualizing “Our Common Purpose”

This is a guest post by Lee Ann Potter, Director of Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives at  the Library of Congress Center for Learning, Literacy, & Engagement. “Our Common Purpose—A Campaign for Civic Strength at the Library of Congress,” a wealth of activities at the Library this spring. The theme, chosen by Danielle Allen, winner […]

Kissinger Chairs Reflect on the 20th Anniversary of the Chair’s Establishment

Introduction from the Director of the Kluge Center Around the turn of the century, then-Librarian of Congress James Billington secured a generous gift to endow the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations, concurrent with the opening of the Kluge Center. Many of Dr. Kissinger’s friends and colleagues, as well as foundations, […]

Nahuatl Passion Plays in the Colonial Era: An Interview With Louise Burkhart

Louise M. Burkhart is Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany as well as Jay I. Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas at the John W. Kluge Center. Andrew Breiner: Could you start by telling me a little about your background and […]

Wrestling with the Question of American Identity and Whether Consensus is Possible

On May 13, the John W. Kluge Center held a panel discussion on the changing interpretations of the nation’s founding principles, with the goal of illuminating a shared vision of the United States and its history for Americans across the spectrum of political beliefs. The full event is now available to view. Kluge Prize Winner […]

What Makes Americans American? Why Origin Stories Require Negotiation

Origin stories are never simple, and this is as true for countries as it is for individuals, ideas, and cultures. That the term “nation-state,” which designates one of the primary building blocks of modern geopolitical order, is a compound word speaks to this complexity, and there are many reasons why scholars are unable to fully […]

Watch: Scientist Ainissa Ramirez on How Materials Shape Us

On April 22 the Kluge Center released a Kluge Book Conversation with materials scientist and writer Ainissa Ramirez, author of “The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another.” In it, Ramirez examines eight inventions that introduced major changes to the way people live. The Kluge Center’s Dan Turello interviewed Ramirez on her […]

Kluge Center Announces New Chairs in 2021

The John W. Kluge Center is pleased to announce four new Chairs beginning their time in residence in 2021. David Baron holds the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific Innovation. Baron is a journalist, author, and broadcaster who has worked as a science correspondent for National Public Radio and […]

Why Reforming Electoral Institutions Might Be the Best Way to Change Policymaking

On April 15, the John W. Kluge Center held its second event in the Our Common Purpose Series with Kluge Prize winner Danielle Allen. How Political Institutions Shape Outcomes and How We Might Reform Them convened a panel of experts on the ways that electoral decision-making systems can encourage some outcomes over others. They also […]