Press Release

Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Examines American Democracy & the Common Good


Spring 2013 Issue of Dædalus Available April 15

NOTE: Please credit Daedalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, when citing this editorial material.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – How do we renew confidence in America’s institutions and strengthen public engagement in civic life? The Spring 2013 issue of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, suggests ways in which government, corporations, nonprofits, the judiciary, and the media can inspire greater confidence in our democratic system and a renewed commitment to civil discourse.

In the face of increasing polarization and considerable stress on the American polity, this issue of Dædalus begins a much-needed public conversation about how individuals and institutions can work together to strengthen democracy and promote the common good.

“Fundamental American institutions of democracy are held in public trust. They provide a continuity of law and procedure, of practice and participation, and of knowledge and inquiry from one generation to the next,” said American Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz. “When they serve the short-term interests of particular individuals or groups, they erode public trust; they erode the faith of citizens in the very legitimacy of our constitutional democracy.”

The Dædalus volume is part of an ongoing American Academy project, Stewarding America: Civic Institutions and the Public Good, which brings together leading scholars and other experts to analyze the institutions that are critical for inspiring good citizenship. The issue is guest-edited by Academy Fellows Norman J. Ornstein (Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute) and William A. Galston (Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution); the volume analyzes particular sections of our social fabric while also providing a strong overview of the entire tapestry.

“Our civic life may be fraying at the edges, the essayists suggest, but it is possible to reverse the damage and restore our sense of common purpose,” writes Ornstein in his introduction. “Indeed, it is necessary and urgent that we get to the work of doing so.”

The authors in this issue pose compelling questions for our public institutions:

  • In “Reluctant Stewards: Journalism in a Democratic Society,” Michael Schudson (Columbia University) writes: “Could the media do better in serving democratic ends? A better journalism might be possible if journalists had a more sophisticated sense of what it means to serve democratic ends. It is more than providing citizens with the information they need to make sound decisions in the voting booth.”

  • In “The American Corporation,” Ralph Gomory (New York University Stern School of Business) and Richard Sylla (New York University Stern School of Business) question why corporations that are focused on maximizing shareholder profit rather than a larger public good get government bailouts and the right to spend corporate funds in electoral politics: “The great American corporations today are doing well for their top managers and shareholders, but this does not mean that they are doing well for the country as a whole.”

  • In “The Challenges Facing Civic Education in the 21st Century,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson (University of Pennsylvania) examines ways in which polarized politics and shifting priorities in school reform have undermined civics education across America. “Despite the fact that civic education produces an array of positive outcomes, the citizenry’s current level of civic knowledge is far from ideal, and the role of civic education in schools is far from secure,” she writes.

  • In “What is the Common Good?” former congressman Mickey Edwards (Aspen Institute) addresses the struggle to agree on a single definition of the common good. “The problem is that where emotion overrules process, the sides themselves become confused, and conservatives and liberals alike sometimes champion the right of the collective to deny an individual a right to which he or she might otherwise be entitled. There is a confusing lack of consistency in determining where the common good lies.”

  • Thomas E. Mann (Brookings Institution) and Norman J. Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute), in “Finding the Common Good in an Era of Dysfunctional Governance,” raise alarms about government failures and partisan rancor that are “dangerous to the fundamental legitimacy of decisions made by policy-makers.” They consider a variety of cultural and structural changes that may be required to fix the problem.

All essays in the volume are available for a limited time online.
Print copies of the new issue can be ordered here; Kindle copies can be ordered here.

Essays in the Spring 2013 issue of Dædalus include:

  • The Common Good: Theoretical Content, Practical Utility by William A. Galston (Brookings Institution)

  • Finding the Common Good in an Era of Dysfunctional Governance by Thomas E. Mann (Brookings Institution) & Norman J. Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute)

  • Can the Judicial Branch be a Steward in a Polarized Democracy? by Jeffrey Rosen (George Washington University Law School)

  • The Supreme Court in the 21st Century by Geoffrey R. Stone (University of Chicago Law School)

  • The Origins & Lessons of Public Confidence in the Military by Andrew A. Hill (U.S. Army War College), Leonard Wong (U.S. Army War College) & Stephen J. Gerras (U.S. Army War College)

  • The Challenges Facing Civic Education by Kathleen Hall Jamieson (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania)

  • The Case for Transcending Partisanship by Mickey Edwards (Aspen Institute)

  • Citizens United: Robbing America of Its Democratic Idealism by Jim Leach (National Endowment for the Humanities)

  • The American Corporation by Ralph Gomory (New York University Stern School of Business) and Richard Sylla (New York University Stern School of Business)

  • Unions & Civic Engagement: How the Assault on Labor Endangers Civil Society by Andy Stern (Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy, Columbia University)

  • Philanthropy & the Nonprofit Sector by Peter Dobkin Hall (City University of New York; Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard University)

  • Reluctant Stewards: Journalism in a Democratic Society by Michael Schudson (Columbia University)

  • The Argument Culture by Deborah Tannen (Georgetown University)

  • Compromise & the Common Good by Amy Gutmann (University of Pennsylvania) & Dennis Thompson (Harvard University)

  • Reestablishing the Commons for the Common Good by Howard Gardner (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

  • The Democratic Spirit by Kwame Anthony Appiah (Princeton University)


Since its founding in 1780, the American Academy has served the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue, and useful knowledge. As one of the nation’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, the Academy convenes leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to address critical challenges facing our global society.

Through studies, publications, and programs on the Humanities, Arts, and Education; Science, Engineering, and Technology; Global Security and Energy; and American Institutions and the Public Good, the Academy provides authoritative and nonpartisan policy advice to decision-makers in government, academia, and the private sector.





Stewarding America

Norman Jay Ornstein