Conference description

Dear FOCIS patrons,

As director of the Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society (FOCIS), it is my pleasure to invite you to FOCIS’ spring 2016 conference, Urban Families: The American Dream in Crisis.

Detroit has featured prominently in the national news media for some time – first as a symbol of urban decay, but more recently as a symbol of the way in which the nation’s largest cities have begun to reinvent and rejuvenate themselves. Broad media attention has focused on a few of Detroit’s neighborhoods whose increasing vibrancy seems to be a bellwether of the city’s comeback, but much of the city has yet to share in this renaissance. We have a long way to go to ensure a uniform high quality of life, as well as equality of opportunity.

It is no cliché to say that our children are this city’s most precious asset, nor is it an oversimplification to say that our children’s future depends on healthy communities; and for their success, both our children and our communities ultimately depend on secure, engaged and economically stable families. This is a proposition that stretches beyond racial, geographic and economic barriers.

Before we arrived at this spring’s topic, I consulted a team of our school, college and institute administrators and asked them to help FOCIS develop a program that focused on the critical challenges facing our cities and our society. We all agreed that one of the most urgent of these many topics was the American family.

We are delighted to have Harvard Professor Robert D. Putnam as our keynote speaker today. President Obama awarded Professor Putnam the 2012 National Humanities Medal for “deepening our understanding of community in America.” Professor Putnam has had a distinguished career on both sides of the Atlantic as a scholar, social scientist and author of celebrated books. His most recent, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, will be the topic of his presentation.

As with previous FOCIS programs, we are offering this event to the public at no charge. This is possible only because of the generosity of our principal sponsors. In addition to long-term support from the Applebaum Family Foundation, we are fortunate to have first-time support from both The Kresge and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundations.

I hope you will join us on the 28th.  

Irvin D. Reid

Director, FOCIS