Professor Ron Shaiko, Associate Director of Curricular Programs at the Rockefeller Center, led a discussion with Fellows entitled Leadership in Civil Society earlier this month. Drawing upon the book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam, Professor Shaiko opened by introducing Fellows to the concept of social capital.
He explained the distinction between bonding social capital and bridging social capital, and provided statistics on the level of group participation in historical and contemporary society. Fellows discussed the motivations behind joining a group and the value of group membership at the national level.
Then the conversation turned to groups on the Dartmouth campus and Fellows broke into smaller groups to discuss the state of civil society among students. Fellows concluded that although as a campus we are exceptional at fostering bonding social capital, and better than most at forming bridging social capital, there is still room for improvement in terms of connecting diverse communities.
-- Karen Doster '11