Core Ideas


Democracy requires responsible citizens who can make sound decisions about their future, and can act on these decisions. Through joint learning exchanges, Kettering studies how citizens might accept their responsibility, make sound decisions about what is in the public’s interest, and join forces to act on those decisions.


Democracy requires a community, or a society of citizens, that can work together. We research the way citizens face persistent problems in their communities. These problems, such as poverty, violence, and gaps in educational achievement, require citizens, communities, and institutions to work together to address them.


Democracy requires institutions with public legitimacy that contribute to strengthening society. While institutions can affect the public’s ability to govern itself, they can also unintentionally weaken self-rule by substituting expert knowledge for public knowledge. Aligning institutional routines with citizens’ work is the central challenge. 

Kettering Foundation News

Deliberation in Everyday Conversations

Written by: Kettering Staff

How has the pandemic impacted the ability to deliberate in communities?

Jack L. Harper Joins Kettering Foundation as Vice President, Treasurer, and CFO

Written by: Kettering Staff

Jack L. Harper, an executive with over 27 years of public and private experience in tax law and corporate governance, including at Walmart and Discover, has been selected as the new Vice President, Treasurer, and CFO of the Kettering Foundation.

What Matters More, Tribe or Democracy?

Written by: Kettering Staff

As part of the Kettering Foundation’s ongoing research, our staff and allied organizations gather for monthly Dayton Days research sessions to reflect on the ideas guiding our work and to share new insights.

Connections 2020: The Work of Democratic Citizenship

Written by: Kettering Staff

As we began planning the 2020 issue of Connections, it seemed that the world was falling apart.

David Holwerk, 1947-2020

Written by: Kettering Staff

The Kettering Foundation is deeply saddened to share that David Holwerk, Kettering’s director of communications, died of a heart attack on November 23, at the age of 73, at his home in New Albany, Indiana.