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“Getting Civil Society Right: Lessons from Japan”

“Getting Civil Society Right: Lessons from Japan” will be presented by political scientist and former UTC Honors student Robert Pekkanen on Monday, April 2 at noon in the Signal Mountain Room of the University Center. The public is invited, and there is no admission charge.

Civil society groups everywhere have grown explosively in recent decades. Simultaneously, ideas of social capital have aroused widespread interest. Pekkanen considers a wide range of non-governmental organizations, nonprofits, and voluntary groups under the unifying rubric of "civil society," and develops a unique theory to explain why so many Japanese are involved in groups, but with few large, nationally managed organizations as in America.

Pekkanen is currently Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Washington and he also serves as head of the Japanese Studies Program. Pekkanen began publishing his break-through research on civil society even while he was a graduate student at Harvard, in Asian Studies journals and leading Political Science journals such as the American Political Science Review. His first book, Japan's Dual Civil Society: Members Without Advocates, was published by Stanford last year, and recently it was awarded a prize by the Japan NPO Research Association. This prize was for the best books on Japan's nonprofit sector among all books published in 2005 and 2006. It was only the second English-language book to be awarded a prize by the Japan NPO Research Association.

Pekkanen has written for the Seattle Times, has been interviewed on NPR and on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. His scholarly articles have appeared in American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science and other top journals.

March 30, 2007