Dr. Chris Stout is a licensed clinical psychologist and has a diverse background in various domains. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Global Initiatives a top rated global health nonprofit and Platinum Ranked by GuideStar Through the Center, he was able to gain approval from the Tanzanian Ministry of Education to establish a kindergarten for an orphanage amongst other global projects and collaborations serving the mission of helping in the creation of self-sustaining programs that improve access to healthcare in underserved communities throughout the world by “open-sourcing” humanitarian intervention. All services, tools, materials and consultations are free.
Chris held an appointment as a Clinical Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and served as an Advisory Board Member in starting their Center for Global Health. He was a Fellow in the School of Public Health Leadership Institute and a Core Faculty at their International Center on Responses to Catastrophes as well. He also held an academic appointment at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences’ Mental Health Services and Policy Program, and was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Health Systems Management at Rush University. He is the first psychologist to have an invited appointment to the Lake County Board of Health, where he served for a decade.
He was Vice President and Founding Director of the Department of Clinical Research and Data Analytics, for ATI Holdings, LLC, the nation’s largest sports medicine and orthopedic rehabilitation organization, holding a $2.5B valuation, overseeing all clinical outcomes of patients with musculoskeletal injuries, and managed the clinical data resulting from over 24,000 patient visits a day. From these large datasets, he developed and served as Principal Investigator for two national registries in the NIH National Library of Medicine’s ClinicalTrials.gov (Evidence-based Guide Investigating Clinical Services, NCT02285868 and Evidence-based Guide Investigating Medical and Preventative Services NCT04050319) which were listed in AHRQ’s Registry of Patient Registries. He also has experience as being the PI on National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grants, NIMH/SAMHSA grants, and with the FDA in the area of prescription digital therapeutics (PDTx), 510(k) predicated devices, and software as a medical device (SaaMD). He is a co-inventor of a patent application for an Integrated Healthcare Monitoring System
Chris is a Fellow in three Divisions of the American Psychological Association (APA), past-President of the Illinois Psychological Association (IPA), and is a Distinguished Practitioner in the National Academies of Practice. He was appointed Federal Advocacy Coordinator for the APA and served for over a decade, going to Washington, DC advocating for healthcare reform and served as a Presidential Cabinet Advisor to the Department of Education on Special Education and Mental Health (for the George H. W. Bush administration). He also chaired the Legislative Affairs Committee for the IPA, formally provided testimony on healthcare needs to a government panel, and was an editorial cartoonist on healthcare advocacy and policy In recognition of his service, the IPA named him Distinguished Psychologist of the Year (1999) and he received Federal Advocacy awards from the Association for the Advancement of Psychology (1997), APA (1998), the APA’s Heiser Award (1999), and the Illinois Senate and House similarly recognized his work by proclamation of “Dr. Chris E. Stout Week” (1999). Chris was elected to APA’s Committee on International Relations in Psychology for a three-year term, during which he served as Co-Chair with Florence Kaslow, PhD. The focus of the Committee was on thinking strategically and collaboratively to promote psychology globally. He also was a coauthor of APA’s Going International: A Practical Guide for Psychologists - Academics Going Abroad and Going International: A Practical Guide for Psychologists Book 2: Engaging in International Collaborative Research.
Chris worked as a Non-Governmental Organization Special Representative to the United Nations through the APA and had the honor of formally speaking there, authoring a position paper on The Copenhagen Declaration, and subsequently co-edited (with Harvey Langholtz, PhD) The Psychology of Diplomacy, following his book The Integration of Psychological Principles in Policy Development He was appointed by the Secretary of the US Department of Commerce to the Board of Examiners for the Baldrige National Quality Award, was a trained APA-Accreditation site reviewer, and was invited to serve on the APA Task Force on Envisioning, Identifying, and Accessing New Professional Roles.
Chris produced the critically acclaimed four volume set The Psychology of Terrorism (with Klaus Schwab contributing the Foreword), the three volume collection The Psychology of Resolving Global Conflicts (with Mari Fitzduff, PhD), and the Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Silver Award–winning three volume set, The New Humanitarians. He served as the Series Editor of Contemporary Psychology (Praeger) and Getting Started (Wiley) and has published a number of peer-reviewed articles as well as 38 books on various topics in psychology, including the popular Evidence-Based Practice (Wiley, with R. Hayes). Various chapters and books of his have appeared in a total of 8 languages As a world-wide speaker, organizational consultant and startup whisperer, Chris has worked or traveled in all 50 states, over 100 countries, 6 continents, and visited over 140 World Heritage Sites He was noted as being “one of the most frequently cited psychologists in the scientific literature” in a study by Hartwick College. He most recently published the edited volume, Why Global Health Matters, with Nobel Laureate, Jody Williams, authoring the Foreword, and was the #1 New Release in Psychology and Medicine when it debuted, adding to Chris’ Best-Selling author credentials. His academic productivity scores are h-Index=42, i10 Index=113, and 7949 citations based on Google Scholar findings. He is listed in TED Conferences Founder Richard Saul Wurman’s “Who’s Really Who, 1000: The Most Creative Individuals in America.”
He is the Executive Producer and Host of a popular syndicated podcast, Living a Life in Full, featuring guests working in the humanitarian space and spills over into his LinkedIn Top Voices posts on global health, technology, and humanitarian activism, nearing a half-million followers. A 2022 piece he wrote for LinkedIn News, was a Pulitzer Nominee for Editorial Writing. He is Editor-in-Chief of the sister LinkedIn publication, Tools for Change with over 150,000 subscribers. He also serves as a Contributing Editor for Atlas Obscura. His podcast is ranked in the Top 5% of All Podcasts by ListenNotes. He is also an Executive Producer for the documentary film, Somewhere Else Together.
He has served as Chief of Psychology, Director of Research, and Senior VP of an integrated behavioral healthcare system during a 15-year tenure. He was appointed as Illinois’ first Chief of Psychological Services for the Department of Human Services/Division of Mental Health–making him the highest-ranking psychologist in the State of Illinois and a committed reformer of psychology within the governmental setting. He also served as Chief Clinical Information Officer for the State’s Division of Mental Health in 2004–a Cabinet-level position. Chris has also served in CEO, COO and CCO positions in various behavioral healthcare startups. The breadth of his work ranges from having served as a judge for Dean Kamen’s FIRST Robotics competitions to serving on the Young Leaders Forum of the Chicago Community Trust.
Chris holds the distinction of being one of only 100 world-wide leaders appointed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow joining the ranks of Tony Blair, Jody Foster, Bill Gates, and J. K. Rowling, and he was an Invited Faculty at the Annual Meeting in Davos for a number of years. He was invited by the Club de Madrid and Safe-Democracy to serve on the Madrid-11 Countering Terrorism Task Force.
His humanitarian activities include going on international missions with the Flying Doctors of America to Vietnam, Bolivia, Rwanda, Peru, Ecuador, and the Amazon; War Child in Russia; the Kovler Center (for Refugee Survivors of Torture); Amnesty International; the RWJ Foundation; the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust; and Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He also was a delegate at the State of the World Forum in Belfast. He is a signatory to the UN’s 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He was appointed as a Special (Citizen) Ambassador and Delegation Leader to South Africa and Eastern Europe by the Eisenhower Foundation. He is the inventor of the “52 Ways to Change the World” card deck. In his philanthropic work, Chris established a scholarship at Purdue’s School of Engineering and Technology for students conducting research, service or participating in international projects. He continues to serve the School of Science providing mentorship and webinars on professional and career development. He has won awards for public service announcements, as well as for his photography, and as a watercolorist. Chris was inducted into his high school’ s and his university’ s Halls of Fame In 2022, he was named One of the Top 100 Doctors by the Global Summits Institute
Chris was educated at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, attended The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, and Forest Institute, gaining over twenty-four awards and four scholarships; including, the Purdue Distinguished Academic Performance Award, the Purdue Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award, and Valedictorian of his doctoral class. He obtained post-doctoral experience at Harvard Medical
School as a Fellow in Neuro-developmental Behavioral Pediatrics He has received four additional doctorates (honoris causa) in Philosophy, Humane Letters, Humanities, and from Purdue School of Engineering, a Doctor of Technology degree, in addition to over 30 other post-doctoral awards.
He has been interviewed on many radio, cable, local, and national television programs (e.g., CNBC, CNN, WGN, NBC, PBS, NPR, Medical Rounds, Chicago Tonight, CL-TV, Oprah, Eye On Harvard, Christina, Bertise Berry, et al), and by numerous publications (Time, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Women’s Day, Modern Healthcare, Associated Press, Child Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Windy City Sports, NorthShore Magazine, Monitor on Psychology...). He coined the term “eMortality” and numerous registered servicemarks. He was an American Delegate and presenter at the Santa Fe Institute’ s 1st International Conference on Unconventional Computing. A unique and distinct honor was being named one of ten Volunteer’s of the Year by Pioneer Press in 1999, for his global efforts.
His entrepreneurial experience is demonstrated in multiple start-ups that include the areas of finance, media, healthcare, engineering, technology, and consulting (with a top-tier client list that includes Oracle). He is now an angel advisor, early money-in investor, and serves on a number of for- and not-for-profit boards. Chris has held licenses or certifications as a Clinical Psychologist (Wisconsin and Illinois), in Wilderness Medicine, US Cycling Federation Division IV Racing License, Disaster Mental Health Certified, Motorcycle Road Racing License, Certified SCUBA Diver, Boater’ s License, SEC 203(c) Registered Investment Advisor, accepted into the American Institute of Architects, Porsche Club Concurs Judge, and was even a Licensed Bar Tender. Chris serves as a decorated Staff Officer in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary (District 9WR, Flotilla 47 – 2) with qualifications in the areas of FEMA Incident Command, National Incident Management, Homeland Security, Marine Safety, and Environmental Protection which is augmented by his efforts as a Water Action Citizen Scientist working with the Department of Natural Resources at The Ridges.
His current interests are in humanitarian intervention and the multidisciplinary integration of psychology, public health and global health, along with evidence-based practice and outcomes, complex systems and ways in which technology can augment and assist. A special honor is having his body of work become part of the Smithsonian’ s collection in the “Dr. Chris E. Stout Archive” housed at The Center for the History of Psychology, University of Akron.
He’s an avid endurance- and adventure-athlete as an ultra-marathon runner, diver (Blue Hole, Great Barrier Reef, night, narco- and shark-dives), and a devoted (albeit amateur) alpinist, having thus far summited three of the world’s Seven Summits as well as Mt. Whitney (tallest in 49 states), Mt. Rainier, Yosemite’s Half-Dome, Pikes Peak (with his daughter), Adam’s Peak (Sri Lanka), and founded Summits For Others. He also shows concours-winning vintage BMW motorcycles and Porsches as well as custom built Ducati café racers, but his greatest joy comes from being with his best friend and wife, Dr. Karen Beckstrand and their two adult children, Grayson and Annika.
Please be in touch: https://Linktr.ee/DrChrisStout or 847.550.0092
APA International Humanitarian Award Winner
Chris E. Stout: International Humanitarian Award (2004). American Psychologist, 59(8), 842–853. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.59.8.842
Citation: "For his tireless pioneering of cross-disciplinary projects world-wide, in healthcare, medical education and sciences, human rights, poverty, conflict, policy, sustainable development, diplomacy, and terrorism, all of which result in a tapestry with psychology serving as the integrating thread, we honor Dr. Chris Edward Stout. He is a rare individual who takes risks, stimulates new ideas, and enlarges possibilities in areas of great need but few resources. He is able to masterfully navigate between the domains of policy development while also rolling-up his sleeves to provide in-the-trenches care. His drive and vigor are disguised by his quick humor and ever-present kindness. He is provocative in his ideas and evocative in spirit. His creative solutions and inclusiveness crosses conceptual boundaries as well physical borders. No one is more deserving of this highest recognition than our esteemed colleague, Dr. Chris Edward Stout, whose work and impact spans the globe."
International Psychology’s Rock Star
It's the rare psychologist who gets to trade intellectual bon mots with international luminaries such as Bono, Al Gore, Tony Blair, both Clintons and Steve Jobs. But, after Chris E. Stout, PsyD, was named one of the World Economic Forum's 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow in 2000--a group of world leaders under age 40 who have demonstrated socially responsible leadership he was invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for three years running.
"You never really know why you get invited," jokes Stout. "My impression was that it was a mistake."
But there's no mistaking Stout's passion for integrating psychology with public health around the world. Since the early '90s, Stout has been bringing health and psychological assistance to children and families in countries such as Vietnam, Rwanda and Peru. Building on his former work as a child psychologist, his involvement in global health projects, the time he spent at the United Nations as part of APA's nongovernmental organization and the connections he made in Davos, Stout founded the Center for Global Initiatives in 2004 to train health-care professionals and students to create sustainable programs.
"We develop projects that can be handed off to locals," says Stout. The center's projects have included establishing a kindergarten in Tanzania for children orphaned by AIDS and providing health care to families living in Bolivian prisons.
Most recently, Stout brought a group of nurses, physicians and other health professionals to the center to design a project to train groups of Cambodian villagers in basic emergency medicine and first aid that can be used to stabilize injured people until they can get to a hospital.
Stout has further plans for the Bolivian prisons, where inmates' children live and go to school when there's no one else on the outside to care for them. The teachers there have no resources, so Stout is assembling child-friendly psychological and resiliency materials, children's books and parenting information. He plans to use center funds to send interested psychology grad students to the prisons to train the teachers to incorporate the materials.
Not as glamorous as Davos, but exactly where Stout wants to be.
Monitor on Psychology, December 2007, Vol 38, No. 11, page 41 http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec07/rockstar.aspx
Past interviews and talks: https://issuu.com/dr.chrisstout/stacks/08a0997fa6cc47a58a4e4c7f981831db and whatnot: https://issuu.com/dr.chrisstout/stacks
For very specific details: https://issuu.com/dr.chrisstout/docs/the_list
References and Reviews
Harvey J. Langholtz, PhD
Department of Psychological Sciences, William & Mary
Executive (Founding) Director of the Peace Operations Training Institute
Former Commanding Officer of the US Coast Guard Institute, responsible for all distance learning in the service and member of the US Delegation to the UN, serving on the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.
Mari Christine Fitzduff, PhD
Professor, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
Founding Director of the Community Relations Council, which developed many of the conflict resolution initiatives in Northern Ireland.
Former Director of UNU/INCORE, a joint initiative of the United Nations University and the University of Ulster, where she held a Chair in Conflict Resolution.
Victor Olusegun Adeniji, MA
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Communities United to Remove Epidemics Initiative (the CURE Initiative), Lagos, Nigeria
William H. Reid, MD, MPH
University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Texas A&M College of Medicine
Former Medical Director, Texas Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities
Camille Helkowski, MEd, NCC, LCPC
Private practice and faculty in the Masters of Pastoral Counseling Program at Loyola's Institute for Pastoral Studies
Former Associate Director of the Career Development Center at Loyola University Chicago
“All of us aspire to someday “make a real difference” in the world yet, caught up in our own day- to-day personal crises and seemingly pressing obligations, very few of us ever fulfill this important human dream Chris Stout is a world class humanitarian who has taken the time to vividly explore the inside world of those who have succeeded Perhaps with this new appreciation for how to succeed, more of us will eventually fulfill our own personal quest to make the world just a little bit better.”
Pat DeLeon, Ph.D., M.P.H., JD, Past President of the American Psychological Association
“Stout's stories of social innovators in The New Humanitarians are inspiring and instructive -helpful to anyone who wants to participate in building a better world.”
David Bornstein, author, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, and The Price of a Dream, and has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, New York News- day, and other major publications.
“Usually we think it takes someone extraordinary to do something of great value a Gandhi or a King In fact, the people profiled in these volumes are just like most of us nobodies to start with, who became some bodies because they answered a call. The moral here may be that if we hear that ‘still small voice,’ act on it. It can make a difference, including just supporting any of these organizations at any level, or one like them.”
John Steiner, Co-founder, The National Commons and Chair, the Transpartisan Center
“Poverty takes many forms, from lack of health care and the most basic education, to vulnerability to the abuse of others. Where governments and multilateral agencies are falling short, concerned individuals have been racing forward with creative solutions like white blood cells addressing infections. This is one of the most powerful movements at work in the world today. Chris Stout is shining a bright light on their critically important work.”
Welford Welch, Author, The Tactics of Hope - How Social Entrepreneurs Are Changing Our World
“We learn by our own experiences and by living the experiences of others through stories. We are human because of our connectedness with other humans. What Chris has done in The New Humanitarians is to capture and share in a compelling way the inspirational stories of people who are making a real difference to others; people who are leading beyond self-interest. Just think if we all did that…”
Fields Wicker-Miurin, Leaders' Quest, CFO, London Stock Exchange, Governor of King's College London.
“(We) appreciate Dr Chris Stout's outstanding service to the Nation as a member of the Baldrige National Quality Program Evaluation Team for Healthcare.” - (the late) Ronald H. Brown, United States Secretary of Commerce
“We are indeed grateful to you (for) having been in the forefront of advocacy throughout the years, and to have helped to create and shape psychology.” - Richard M. Suinn, PhD, APA President 1998-9, and Jack Wiggins, PhD, APA President 1992-3
“Chris is a true model for not only his peers to emulate, but for all of us to admire.” - Stephen Pfeiffer, PhD, Executive Director Emeritus, AAP
“Systems expert Dr. Chris Stout has performed his magic again. His insightfully crafted methods provide a clean and easy road map .. (along with his) seasoned advice for those that want rapid solutions that work.” Douglas H. Rubin, PhD
“There is optimism and vulnerability that filter through Chris' world view and suffuse his work. His energy is respectful of others and hopeful for the world and we are all better for it.” Leigh W. Jerome, PhD
“More action, and less rhetoric, to improve the health and well-being of people is a fruitful approach to global peace. Chris should be commended for his systematically working toward his goals.” Dan Leviton, PhD, U. of Maryland
“When I first met Chris, it was at the TED Conference in Monterey. We had a brief discussion which has impacted my life ever since. One phrase, ‘Do Important Things’ changed how I look at who I am, what I do in life, and how it affects others. From minor activities to large projects, I now view them in a different context. This adds depth and new textures to my actions which were previously unavailable to how I lived in the real world.” Ted Stout (not related), ROI
“Chris Stout is a remarkable man. He has the intellect of Bernard Baruch, the fearlessness of Evel Knievel and the affability of Bill Clinton.” Ralph Musicant, JD, Harvard Law
“Strong in the face of adversity, thoughtful, kind, conscientious, compassionate, intelligent and inspiring! What a world it would be if only we could say that Chris Stout's story is a norm.” Debbie Carvalko, Praeger Publishing
Chris (is involved in) creating self-sustaining programs that improve access to healthcare in underserved communities throughout the world. He works relentlessly with multidisciplinary professionals for all aspects of healthcare, especially mental health. His podcast, A Life in Full, is legendary. Leigh W. Jerome, PhD, Relational Space, Inc.
Klaus Schwab’s closing paragraphs of his Foreword in my 4 Volume Set, The Psychology of Terrorism
Mehmet Oz’s Foreword to my 4 Volume Set, The New Humanitarians
Keith Ferrazzi’s Afterword to my 4 Volume Set, The New Humanitarians
Why Global Health Matters
Terrorism, Political Violence, and Extremism
"Dr. Stout has compiled a must-read for anyone interested in a beneath-the-surface examination of the psychology of terrorism and extremism. This book explores the topic from a variety of valuable vantage points, which both informs the reader in a complete way and maintains the crucial conviction of the complexity of the subject matter. It is a provocative read and should spur much dialog." - Philip Zimbardo, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
"Political and religious terrorists are increasingly the enemies of our democratic futures. Learning to understand their roots, their motivations, and their power to sway the way in which we live is critical, and this impressive book will be an invaluable tool for those of us who are intent on countering violent extremism." - Mari
PhD, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Coexistence, Heller School, Brandeis University
A Review of
The Evidence-Based Practice: Methods, Models, and Tools for Mental Health Professionals by Chris Stout and Randy Hayes (Eds.) New York: Wiley, 2005. 363 pp. ISBN 0-471-46747-2
“…In conclusion, this is a helpful book for the mental health clinician that addresses an important issue for the field of mental health. The book is well organized and supported by empirical research. Overall, this book is highly recommended for mental health clinicians and students who may need help bridging the chasm that exists between mental health research and clinical practice.”
Dr. Cynthia Kreutzer, private practice and Georgia Perimeter College and J. D. Weidner, Valdosta State University.
A Review of Psychology of Terrorism: Coping with the Continuing Threat by Chris E. Stout Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood, 2004. 267 pp. ISBN 0-275-98207-6.
“The quest to understand terrorism is in its infancy… The Psychology of Terrorism provides a variety of perspectives related to our understanding of terrorism and how best to cope given the dearth of knowledge and research on the subject that exists today.”
Victoria Bacon, PhD, Bridgewater State College, Massachusetts.
A Review of The Psychology of Resolving Global Conflicts: From War to Peace: Vols. 1–3 by Mari Fitzduff and Chris E. Stout Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006. 1088 pp. ISBN 978-0-275-98201-0. (3 vols.)
Volume 1: Nature vs. Nurture
Volume 2: Group and Social Factors
Volume 3: Interventions
“To assist the reader, each of the three volumes opens with an introduction outlining and discussing the various concepts and chapters presented in the series Moreover, each text ends with a chapter titled “What Can We Do?” designed to highlight 15 conclusions garnered from the overall ideas presented in the series… The Psychology of Resolving Global Conflicts: From War to Peace will be beneficial to scholars and graduate students in the fields of psychology, sociology, political science, and international relations. In addition, the series is a fundamental “must have” for policymakers, politicians, and strategists, as well as individuals working in the field as peace psychologists or individuals affiliated with nongovernmental organizations. The series includes concrete steps, strategies, and advice aimed at successfully preventing or intervening in global conflict, as well as information concerning tested strategies aimed at post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction. The blend of theoretical, empirical, and practical information will benefit all researching or working toward the resolution of global conflict.”
Dr. Linda Woolf, a professor of psychology and international human rights at Webster University
Given the current state of world events, the editors of the series, Mari Fitzduff and Chris Stout, should be applauded for creating a series aimed at addressing the resolution of global conflict. Indeed, their efforts have resulted in a solid group of essays, from a variety of perspectives, clearly advancing our understanding of the field.”
Michael Hulsizer, PhD, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences,
A Review of
The New Humanitarians: Inspiration, Innovations, and Blueprints for Visionaries by Chris E. Stout (Ed.) Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2009 ISBN 978-0-275-99768-7. $300.00, set
Volume 1. Changing Global Health Inequities 308 pp. ISBN 978-0-275-99770-0
Volume 2. Changing Education and Relief 271 pp. ISBN 978-0-275-99772-4
Volume 3. Changing Sustainable Development and Social Justice 322 pp. ISBN 978-0-275-99774-8
There is a widespread assumption, as well as growing evidence, that social environments play a key role in individuals’ willingness to accept the responsibilities of democratic citizenship and participate in civic life (Perrin, 2005; Wyatt, Katz, & Kim, 2000). This message is made with compelling force throughout the three volumes of The New Humanitarians: Inspiration, Innovations, and Blueprints for Visionaries, a collection of organizational profiles reflecting a diverse range of civic commitments The New Humanitarians chronicles the birth and development of 41 different civic organizations that collectively address causes in most parts of the world.
Some initiatives have flourished, and others seem to be struggling, but there is much to be learned as chapter authors speculate on why their organizations have evolved into these current forms. After commenting on the breadth of ideas conveyed across the various chapters and describing the structures used to bring continuity to this diversity, I will end this review by describing some of my favorite lessons. Whereas many books published by psychologists are written by and designed for academics,
The New Humanitarians includes the voices of people from many walks of life who collaborate in the service of specific causes. The ambitious subtitle, Inspiration, Innovations, Uniqueness in a Common Structure and Blueprints for Visionaries, illustrates the editor’s intent to offer advice to like-minded individuals who hope to start a new organization or join an existing one. Volume titles emphasize the fact that all the contributors share a commitment to change: Changing Global Health Inequities, Changing Education and Relief, and Changing Sustainable Development and Social Justice.
Looking beyond the covers, one can see that each chapter focuses on a specific cause, and the authors describe an organization for addressing the corresponding issues that arise. Despite structural commonalities, the chapters place differing emphasis on various aspects of an organization and its history. Many chapters offer a balanced account of how the various organizations got started, who was and is involved, how the resulting structures emerged, and some of the organizational goals and future plans; yet others lack such balance. Chapters such as those by Arole and Arole, Phalen and Bartrum, Scott, and the students of Loyola University of Chicago focus on the individuals who started or currently lead the organization, highlighting specific leadership characteristics or the personal identity changes that have emerged from their civic engagement. These narratives often convey some of the personal sacrifices that individuals experience as they take seriously the cause they are struggling to address. A second group of chapters, which includes as those by Bartrum, Fisher, Saul, and Stout, outline the structural features of organization in great detail and help readers see how and why a strong civic organization functions like a business. A third group of chapters focuses most heavily on justifying the authors’ civic commitments. Chapter titles such as “Unite for Sight” and “Room to Read” seem to entice readers to join these civic enterprises. Similarly, the civic organizers who represent the various causes report diverse reasons for doing so. Some report being invigorated by interdisciplinary activities or were ready to change careers. Others endeavored to test their identities by meeting people whose lives and experiences could challenge their personal assumptions. These organizers were a mixture of volunteers and paid employees, and worked independently or as part of an existing civic organization
Chapters by members of award-winning organizations such as Amnesty International, Search for Common Ground, and Southern Poverty Law Center are situated alongside those representing organizations that are less known. This variability, coupled with the fact that some chapters are written by active members of the civic organization they represent and others are written by a narrator, can keep readers attentive to the lessons that might be learned across chapters. Quotes from people who are being served as well as those who are doing service strengthen the message that multiple voices learn from one another in multiple ways. It is difficult to determine exactly who might benefit from reading these chapters, largely because they vary in how much detail is captured. Writers were clearly asked to think about a common structure but took full advantage of the freedom to emphasize each section according to their interests.
Chapters differ in how well authors introduce the cause around High Points in a Dynamic Experience which each civic organization was initiated, but the fact that most chapters start with such a description helps readers see why each organization exists. The considerable variability across chapters begins after causes are introduced. Some chapters are heavily grounded in the history of the organization, whereas others offer a brief time line alerting readers only to how particular structures evolved. The most compelling chapters offer details on the qualities of the various partnerships that were formed as well as case studies of who has benefitted as a result of organizational activities, but, again, some chapters seem to stop at this point. Chapters that offer lessons for readers who are interested in putting their own visions into practice are those that also include elaborate descriptions of an organizational mission, activities, and funding experiences along with the overall lessons learned and future plans. Two chapters, one by Fisher and another by Hayward, focus heavily on funding dilemmas, but most chapters have something to say about this issue
After reading all three volumes, I came away chanting the salient message “no mission without a margin” and am ready to accept all 13 of the principles of social entrepreneurship reported by Marks and
209). Nevertheless, it is probably the cumulative effect of reading all the chapters that adds clarity to the funding metaphor and to such principles that maximize civic engagement across social networks. Like the authors, I assume that civic engagement is inherently dialogical and dynamic. I can empathize with the frustration in trying to capture what is essentially an ongoing process into a text that might have meaning even if, as they must, the organizational details change before a chapter is published. During the time I was reading these three volumes, I had the privilege of meeting or listening to mayors of 30 different cities located outside the United States, including Antanas Mockus, former Mayor of Bogotá, long enough to hear other views on how well the civic organizations represented in the chapters were received by community members. Through a series of documentaries such as Beyond Belief (Murphy, 2006) or books such as Three Cups of Tea (Mortenson & Relin, 2006) it is possible to understand some of these innovations in greater depth or to discover new innovations that are not represented in the organizational chapters of The New Humanitarians. The editor anticipated this dynamism to some degree by asking chapter authors to create an organizational snapshot that names the organization, its mission, founders, and directors as well as the electronic and physical addresses where interested readers might learn more. These details do not eliminate the problem but at least allow readers to solicit new information as quickly as organizational leaders are able to document and disseminate it. Left without such a solution, readers should view my assessments of the books’ high points with the same limitations in mind.
My experience with these organizations, three of which I have supported or will continue to support in some very small way (Amnesty International, Invisible Conflicts, and Southern Poverty Law Center), changes often as I become more aware of their mission or am enticed into specific activities. Although I agree with the editor’s point that more conversations between distinct civic organizations are needed, I found the three books filled with outstanding examples of what researchers sometimes call intergroup dialogue (Dessel & Rogge, 2008). By merely situating chapters with similar themes alongside one another, the editor has helped readers see different agendas and responses to common causes. Such reading is inherently dialogical, even if the authors themselves have not actually spoken to one another or followed the work of like-minded organizations. I have been currently fascinated with how individuals assert their agendas and whether they respect the interests of people who may not share their beliefs. For this reason, I was most solidly gripped by the chapters focusing on various forms of political action and conflict resolution. Despite some of the authors’ claims to the contrary, it seems as though all the civic organizations included in this collection have some sort of political agenda, even if that agenda is to remain as unbiased or uninvolved in government activities as possible.
Nevertheless, Caldwell, Fitzduff, Lubetzky, and Wien, in four different chapters, illustrate how individuals in very different parts of the world have been able to put aside very real and painful differences long enough to create positive change in their respective communities. The students of Loyola University of Chicago add youthful vigor as they report jumping into a freezing lake to earn enough money for a schoolroom in another part of the world and to send classmates to Uganda to meet the families they supported. For anyone in doubt of the violent realities that are faced by people in some parts of the world, Duncan, Zissman, and Savaiano open with a compelling narrative that makes the heart jump, and Fabri, Joyce, Black, and González include powerful poetry alongside the formal credentials of their civic organizers. Phillips highlights a compelling need to offer such warring parties time to talk with one another and to genuinely listen until at least some commonalities emerge. These and the many details of lives in progress that pepper the chapters take readers well beyond the idea that civic engagement inevitably involves extraordinary acts by a few enterprising people.
I did find myself wondering why so many of the authors implicitly or explicitly endorse the propositions that bigger is better or that for some organizations to win, others must lose. Nevertheless, I found comfort in the idea that civic discourse is sustained by win–win messages rather than by win–lose messages (Marks and Collin Marks, Vol. 3, p. 191). I liked the reminder that change agents need precontact experiences and guided reflection to ensure that they are joining a particular group for mutually beneficial reasons and that such reflection is essential before any sort of cross-community dialogue can
Collin Marks (Vol. 3, pp. 208–
foster effective resolutions to conflict (Vol. 2, p. 26).
Similarly, I enjoyed being reminded of Buckminster Fuller’s idea that change will not happen by fighting existing reality but by building a new model to render unjust realities obsolete. Many of the chapters highlight various ways in which people and organizations can be resistant to change; these are met by some organizers with bitterness and others with the kind of energy that is needed to move people and institutions beyond the fear that power will be lost or identities trampled upon. I also saw much support for the proposition that we should understand differences, but act on commonalities (Vol. 3, p. 198). Many of the chapters ended with descriptions of future plans for the organization. I might simply add that each organization might be strengthened if organizers would find at least one similar organization with overlapping interests and goals from which to learn at least one lesson.
Theresa A. Thorkildsen, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago