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

New Graphic Novel Considers 1/6

Written by: Kettering Staff

A new graphic novel dramatically asks and answers the question: What if the January 6, 2021, insurrection had been successful?

Join Us: Kettering Conversations with Democracy Innovators

Written by: Kettering Staff

During Kettering Conversations with Democracy Innovators, we explore ways to strengthen democracy, focus on positive narratives amid democratic crisis, and consider opportunities to build upon the strengths of our diverse communities and nation to make them more inclusive and equitable.

Kettering Conversations with Democracy Innovators: Willis “Bing” Davis and Sharon L. Davies

Written by: Kettering Staff

Kettering Conversations with Democracy Innovators highlight individuals who can share transformative ideas and insights into democratic innovation.

Kettering Foundation announces promotions of key staff

Written by: Kettering Staff

The foundation is strengthening its capacity to meet the needs of democracy in a changing world.

The Psychology of Polarization

Written by: Kettering Staff

In December 2022, we invited Mylien Duong, senior director of research of the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI), to join us. CDI uses the psychological processes that influence decision-making to create tools that can help students and professionals have conversations across differences. We asked, What roles do unconscious mental processes play in how we understand and respond to shared problems, and how can these tools help reduce the levels of political mistrust, division, and animosity?