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. 


Cornell Brooks’ Kettering Homecoming

Written by: Kettering Blog

By Andy Mead

Shortly after Cornell Brooks walked into the Cousins House for lunch, David Mathews handed him a package of papers that Brooks had written for the Kettering Foundation.

Does Our Work Really Matter? Deliberative Practitioners Reflect on the Impact of Their Work

Written by: Kettering Blog

As attention to public deliberation has increased, one core interest of researchers has been evaluating the impact of deliberative processes.

A Conversation on the Nature of Leadership

Written by: Kettering Blog

As a topic of inquiry and self-help, leadership has been covered from many angles and by many disciplines.

LIVE STREAM: The Changing World of Work

Written by: Kettering Blog

Join us for a national conversation on The Changing World of Work: What Should We Ask of Higher Education?

New Video: The Creation of Politics

Written by: Kettering Blog

Those of you who have participated in Kettering’s annual summer Deliberative Democracy Exchange have probably heard Kettering Foundation president David Mathews tell a story about a small village that faces a recurring flood. It is a fable of sorts.