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Robert D. Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), was honored as one of the 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal winners at a White House ceremony on Wednesday July 10. Putnam is cited for "deepening our understanding of community in America."
According to a White House press release, "Putnam’s writing and research inspire us to improve institutions that make society worth living in, and his insights challenge us to be better citizens."
Putnam said, “I’m very gratified to be included in such distinguished company, especially as a social scientist. Most of the credit is due to my remarkable students and research team over the years, who have worked with me to reaffirm the power of community.”
The National Endowment for the Arts, first established by the Congress in 1965, has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The National Endowment for the Humanities, also created in 1965, supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the Nation.
Putnam joins a distinguished list of 2012 National Humanities Medal winners including historian Edward L. Ayers, author Jill Ker Conway, sports commentator Frank Deford, author Joan Didion, and actress Anna Deavere Smith. The 2012 National Medal of Arts winners include musician Herb Alpert, screenwriter Tony Kushner, filmmaker George Lucas, comedian Elaine May, and musician Allen Toussaint.
The White House ceremony was held in the East Room with the President and First Lady in attendance.
Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. 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. He has written fourteen books, translated into twenty languages, including the best-selling "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community", and more recently "Better Together: Restoring the American Community", a study of promising new forms of social connectedness.