The Dartmouth Conference: The First 50 Years

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Throughout the Cold War, even when it seemed that the United States and Russian governments were frozen in mortal combat, citizens from both countries were quietly talking to each other about their lives and what they wanted for their countries and the world.

In 2010, the Dartmouth Conference celebrated 50 years of bringing together citizens for those conversations. From its participation in the Dartmouth Conference, Kettering has gained many insights about what people, acting as citizens rather than as politicians, experts, or foreign affairs professionals, can contribute to international peace.

Citizens who have participated in Dartmouth since its first meeting in 1960 have included secretaries and assistant secretaries of state, national security advisors and staff, and chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the U.S. side, as well as department heads from the Central Committee Secretariat and the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs on the Russian side. But participants in the conference do not attempt to do the work of government. Their job is to imagine what can be done without the constraints of government to concentrate on immediate problems. For a half-century now, they have turned their imagination to identifying the concerns of citizens in the two nations and pointing out ways the two nations might work together to address those concerns.

To honor the anniversary, a special publication recounting the history of the Dartmouth conference was produced by longtime participants, including Hal Saunders, Phil Stewart, David Rockefeller, Yevgeny Primakov, Vitaly Naumkin, Irina Zvyagelskaya, Gennady Chufrin, and David Mathews. It contains a full timeline of the relationship between both citizens and the governments of both countries, as well as many fascinating contextual notes.

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Democratic Practice Around the World

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