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

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.

Dartmouth Conference: Metropolitan Feofan of Kazan, 1947-2020

Written by: Kettering Staff

We have learned that one of the Russian principals in the Dartmouth Conference, Metropolitan Feofan of Kazan, has died. He has been part of the meetings since 2014. 

Webinar | Reimagining Democracy: How Philanthropy Can Support an Opportunity Society

Written by: Kettering Staff

This is the second free, online briefing inspired by a collection of new essays on the future of American democracy commissioned by the Kettering Foundation and the Knight Foundation.

Beyond the Facts: Public Journalism and Deliberative Democracy

Written by: Kettering Staff

In October 2020, we invited S. J. Min, associate professor of communication studies at Pace University, to share his work on the intertwined futures of democracy and journalism.

Democracy and Civic Life: What Is the Long Game for Philanthropy?

Written by: Kettering Staff

A new series of papers from the Kettering Foundation and the Knight Foundation.