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The Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida is a community of students, scholars and politically engaged citizens devoted to enhanced citizenship.

Spring 2011 IN THIS ISSUE 2 Current Events 4 Tomorrow’s Leaders 6 Join Us — From Wherever You Are 7 Getting to Know — Mrs. Todd 8 One Last Thought — How Florida Happened


Current Events An integral part of the Bob Graham Center mission is encouraging the discussion and analysis of current issues that affect us locally, nationally and globally. The connection between politics and religion was much debated during fall’s mid-term elections, and so we were delighted to welcome Robert D. Putnam, called “the most influential academic in the world today” by the London Times, to the Center on November 30th to discuss his latest research. In American Grace, he and his coauthor, Notre Dame’s David Campbell, look at how Americans view religion today and how that view has evolved over the last half-century. Based on a comprehensive, in-depth study — more than 3,000 people were surveyed on their beliefs—the book documents the seismic shifts that have occurred in the United States. Says Putnam, “This is a book not about theology, but about how religion is an important contributor to civic engagement and neighborliness.” Before a standing-room-only crowd in Pugh Hall’s Ocora, Putnam reported that U.S. citizens are an unusually devout, diverse and tolerant lot. Presenting some of his most surprising findings, he then took questions from the audience and signed copies of his book. Highlights of his presentation are here; for an in-depth interview with Professor Putnam, visit the Events page at For more information about the authors and their book, visit

Robert Putnam, author and Harvard University professor, said that we Americans have established a highly unusual dynamic, combining a population that is “way more religious than most other developed nations,” yet more diverse in the number of faiths followed and tolerated. During the course of his research, he spent time in more than a dozen congregations throughout the United States — in states as varied as Utah and California and in cities like Chicago, Evanston and Baltimore — judging how “life is seen in the pews.” The researchers were also able to interview their Graham Central • Spring 2011 •

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us

subjects twice, once in 2006 and again in 2007, giving them a snapshot of change over time. For his Bob Graham Center audience, Putnam introduced his findings by first tracing the evolution of religion over five decades. The 1950s remains the most religious decade of those studied, with an explosion of churches built and Bibles sold. But, Putnam said, then came the 1960s, “when everything changed.” He likened the effect of those changes to an earthquake, a time of such rapid and huge change, Time magazine asked on its cover: “Is God Dead?” For some, this was a period of great liberation, while for others, the collapse of morality. And in fact, Putnam said, the next couple of decades were spent, by some, “looking for the most articulate voice against the ‘moral decay’ started in the 60s.” The birth of the evangelical Christian movement and the religious right in the 1980s was the “first aftershock” felt from the earthquake of the 60s, and a “second aftershock” was felt shortly thereafter, as politics and religion became increasingly intertwined into the 1990s. So great was the shift, Putnam reported, that during the 90s, “how you voted had an effect on where you were on Sundays.” The research shows that while in the 60s and 70s more progressive Democrats regularly attended religious services, today it’s the Conservatives who do. Another seismic change is Americans’, and particularly young Americans’, shift away from any organized religion: Putnam showed that until the 90s, only 5 to 7 percent of people identified themselves as non-religious. Today, fully 30 percent of people do so, a group Putnam has tagged as “the nones.” This group mostly believes in God, but does not worship at a religious institution and tends to be younger and more liberal. The findings, of course, beg the question: “Did you change your politics to fit your religion or your religion to fit your politics?” Putnam said, like most of us, he thought he knew the answer — politics fit the religion. But in actuality, the results show that “people sort themselves religiously to fit their politics.” And, even more surprisingly, he continued, we can discover everything we need to know about someone’s politics by asking them if they regularly give a blessing before a meal. Putnam asserted this country is almost evenly divided


Putnam Event into those who say grace and those who do not (the sometimes do make up only 10 percent) and are so divided as Republicans and Democrats, respectively. All that being said, and certainly when considering the election’s media coverage, one might quickly conclude that this country is irrevocably divided by the religious and the secular. However, said Putnam, the reality is that Americans are “way more tolerant of others’ religion than of their politics.” An example of this tolerance, turning inside out the very fabric of religious tenet, is Americans’ view of heaven. Not only do the vast majority believe in heaven, they also believe that people of other faiths — and even those without faith — can go to heaven. When asked, 83 percent of

Seen Heard


An Audience Q&A with Robert Putnam

Ann Henderson, director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, coordinated the question-and-answer session. Here’s a sampling:


What will happen to the children of the “nones?”

Putnam: Well, as Yogi Berra once said, ‘Prediction is hard, particularly about the future,’ but is the rise of the nones going to continue forever? No, because American religious leaders are very good at getting people ‘back in the tent.’ I don’t think it is right to say religion is falling off the cliff. Though some are convinced and confirmed non-secular, Jesus said ‘Be fishers of men.’ And, it’s a big pool, and there are a lot of anglers trying different lures to attract the fish in the pool. One lure that surely won’t work, though, is hard-right politics.

evangelical Christians not only said people of other faiths can pass through the pearly gates, 53 percent said even nonbelievers can. So to what does Putnam attribute this newfound tolerance? Although Americans may have battled publicly for decades over religion, privately, he said, we have been busy “making connections,” such as through interfaith marriages, which now account for more than half of new unions. Like it or not, most of us have a diverse group of relatives and friends — “Aunt Susan and Pal Al” — who cross faith boundaries. “We often find ourselves caught between the formal things theologians say and Aunt Susan,” summarized Putnam. “And we just can’t keep Aunt Susan and Pal Al out of heaven.”


What role has public education played in fostering religious tolerance?


Of all your findings, what surprised you the most?

Putnam: I am a strong supporter of our public schools. Some do think that it is actually religious intolerance that has been fostered in our schools. But I’m always inclined to look at what’s new, what’s changed. Over the last halfcentury we have had both public schools and religious institutions. What’s new are the Aunt Susans, and people pick their personal connections over their institutions.

Putnam: Well, one thing: Jews are the most popular of the religions. I know, it’s a hard sell, but that’s what the findings show. But really, I thought most people would fall into one or the other group: one, there’s little or no truth in any religion or two, the ‘my way or the highway,’ there’s only one truth. The third option would be that there are basic truths in many religions. As it turned out, the ‘religion as evil’ group makes up only a small fraction, and the ‘true believers’ make up only a small fraction. More than 80 percent of Americans fall into the ‘basic truths’ group. We are living today in a strange fun house, where the media shows a mirror making small groups very large, and large groups very small, but that’s just not true. Graham Central • Spring 2011 •


Tomorrow’s Leaders The Bob Graham Center for Public Service provides University of Florida students with an outstanding opportunity: to combine academic coursework and credentials with a living curriculum of real-world case studies, government internships and guest lectures by some of the most prominent leaders in public service today.

Students can pursue a minor in Public Leadership and participate in any one of our other program offerings, such as the Public Service Council, the Americorps’ program or the Civic Library program. Visit the Students page at www. to learn more.

Meet: Bob Graham Center Student Romy Justilien

roles for the Center for Leadership and Service, Center for Student Activities and Involvement, Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, New Student Programs, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, university committees and funded research. As a McNair Scholar, she is conducting qualitative and quantitative research in the interdisciplinary fields of sociology, religion and social policy in the African American community. Her topic comprises an African American survivalist ideology encompassing historical, political, sociological and religious perspectives that seek to explain black homophobia and African American attitudes toward sexuality.

Romy (Romilda) Amaryllis Justilien is a 4th year Family, Youth and Community Sciences major with a minor in Public Leadership at the Bob Graham Center. She is a native of Little Haiti, Miami, and has been involved with

The Bob Graham Center is a community of students, scholars and politically engaged citizens devoted to:

The Center brings the rich academic and intellectual resources of the University of Florida to these goals.

Graham Central • Spring 2011 •

When she graduates this spring, she plans to pursue her Ph.D. in public policy, specializing in social policy and sociology of culture. On her time at the Bob Graham Center, she says, “My greatest moment at the Center was meeting Dr. Robert Putnam, and speaking to him about my research. It was amazing for him to recognize my ideas and opinions.”

About the Bob Graham Center • enhanced citizenship • the training of current and future public and civic leaders who can identify problems and spearhead change • the development of policy on issues of importance to Florida, the United States and the global community.

numerous multicultural and leadership organizations that seek to inspire social change and personal growth in University of Florida students. She currently represents and serves as Miss Black Student Union 2010, and has taken on many civic and leadership

Romy says she decided to pursue the minor in Public Leadership because “I hope to serve in the public and private sector as a lobbyist and social policy analyst to educate decision-makers about critical issues and perspectives concerning morality, human rights, religion and civil rights.”

Through rigorous coursework, research and scholarship and experiential learning, the Center enables students and faculty to understand and master the theory and competencies that are essential for citizens to use and discharge their rights and responsibilities within a democratic government. The Center also provides a forum at which state, national and global issues of the

day are vigorously debated and analyzed by policy makers, scholars, students and members of our community so that thoughtful dialogue on critical issues can move us toward solutions for the common good.

We Hope to Hear From You. Here’s How to Find Us. The Bob Graham Center for Public Service University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 220 Pugh Hall Box 112030 Gainesville, Fl 32611-2030 352-846-1575 (phone) 352-846-1576 (fax) Become a Facebook fan, or follow us on Twitter.


Learning From Expert Analysis Bob Graham, the co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, met with four Bob Graham Center students following the Commission hearings in Washington, D.C. in November. The students were debriefed on the Commission’s findings and were given an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the implications of the findings for future policy regarding the environment, energy and offshore drilling. Travis Hornsby, a junior Statistics and Economics major, says of the experience: “I never thought I would get to see corporations fight over billions of dollars in front of my eyes. The tension in the hearing room was palpable, with the experts representing the major companies involved with Deepwater Horizon going back and forth between each other trying to establish a certain chain of events, which, if accepted, saved their organizations from bearing costs of the most expensive oil spill ever in the U.S. It was a privilege to go on the trip with the Bob Graham Center to see how our government investigates major national disasters.” “Having the opportunity to go to the last Oil Spill Commission hearing was the most educational experience of my year,” says Kristin Klein, a senior Economics and Political Science major. “I was fortunate enough to gain an understanding of how Congressional hearings operate firsthand. Furthermore, I really learned the detailed intricacies of the technical failures that caused Deepwater Horizon to explode and the implications for public policy. The entire experience was enlightening and educational and it is one of the many reasons why the Bob Graham Center for Public Service is so valuable.” Watch Bob Graham’s briefing with the students in its entirely on the Students page at

Affecting Change on Campus The Bob Graham Center’s Public Service Council is open to students pursuing the Center’s minor in Public Leadership, as well as any student interested in strengthening UF students’ civic engagement and political participation. Earlier this fall, the Council organized a forum for students to learn more about proposed plans to move to block tuition. The University is considering the change, which would require full-time undergraduates to pay a flat rate, regardless of the number of credit hours taken. The Council invited UF Provost Joseph Glover and Director of Student Financial Affairs Karen Fooks to address 50-plus students in the Center’s Al and Vanda O’Neill Reading Room. The provost was pleased with both the tone of the forum and with the questions raised. For more information about the Public Service Council, visit the Students page at

Investigating Civic Engagement on Campus The Bob Graham Center is working in collaboration with several universities across the country to better understand civic and political engagement among America’s youth and specifically the level of civic engagement among University of Florida students. Eight Bob Graham Center students are working with Academic Programs Assistant Kimberly Martin on this effort. The group has collected 800 surveys to date and conducted two focus groups. Martin says preliminary findings seem to echo nationwide trends for the millennial generation. Research suggests, for example, that large numbers of young people — those between the ages of 18 to 29 — are minimally-to-not-at-all engaged in the political process and exhibit low levels of confidence in government and low rates of political knowledge. “There’s a disconnect between political service and civic engagement,” she confirms. “Students see politics as negative, divisive and something beyond their control, while communitybased initiatives are viewed much more positively and as a better way to affect change.” The group expects to finish collating the data in January and plans to present their findings in a collaborative report and at academic conferences, including a visit to Harvard University in April. To learn more about this project, visit the Students page at

Graham Central • Spring 2011 •

Join Us From Wherever You Are



n important part of the Bob Graham Center mission is to provide a forum at which the state, national and global issues of the day are debated and analyzed by policy makers, scholars, students and members of our community. Not only were we delighted to welcome former Governor Buddy MacKay and Professor Robert Putnam this fall, we also received expert political analysis from speakers before and after the mid-term elections and we learned more about the efforts and effects of the BP oil spill and its aftermath, among other distinguished programs. Visit the Events Archive page at to catch up on any of our events you missed. This spring, we have more dynamic events planned. For the most up-to-date list, and to see which events will be streamed live, visit the Events page at

Thursday, January 20, 2011 Islam and Freedom UF, Pugh Hall Ocora, 6 p.m. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, activist, politician and author, will discuss her new book, Nomad.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 Deep Water UF, Pugh Hall Ocora, 6 p.m. A special report to UF by former Senator Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator William Reilly, co-chairs of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 The 2011 Florida Legislative Session UF, Pugh Hall Ocora, 6 p.m. Senate President Mike Haridopolos will give us an insider’s view of the upcoming session.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Fuel, the film UF, Pugh Hall Ocora, 6 p.m. After the viewing, Josh and Rebecca Tickell, producer and director, will discuss their work.

Monday, February 28, 2011 Women: Holding Up Half the Sky UF, Pugh Hall Ocora, 6 p.m. New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof will discuss his new book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 Doing the Right Thing In Public and Private Life UF, Pugh Hall MacKay Auditorium, 6 p.m. Michael Sandel, Harvard University professor and author of Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, will challenge us with difficult moral dilemmas and ask us what should be done.

Graham Central • Spring 2011 •


Getting to Know...

Mrs. Todd

Another woman has entered Bob Graham’s life, and before too long, she may know almost as much about him as does his wife of 51 years, Adele. That woman is Debra DavendonisTodd, archivist for the Bob Graham Political Papers. Davendonis-Todd brings pertinent experience to this position. She earned a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina and processed and arranged the South Carolina Political Collections. Sitting in her office in the George A. Smathers Library on the UF campus in Gainesville, surrounded by boxes stacked ceiling-high, Davendonis-Todd says that, yes, approaching the task of understanding and ordering someone’s life’s work can be daunting. But where someone else may quake at the mere thought of trying to order a collection that includes everything from juice boxes, hard hats and bulletproof vests to records dealing with crucial national security debates, DavendonisTodd just sees a fantastic opportunity: one that involves “wrapping my head around all things Bob Graham.” It helps, she says, that this project involves another “really good person.” Davendonis-Todd says her position is unique, in that if she does her job, people will have insight into how our political process works, insight that would be difficult to find through traditional means. “Who we elect in this country matters,” she says. “In the senator’s case, this is material you can’t get anywhere else: think tanks, white papers, this is juicy stuff, all the things that were under the radar. And this information is important not just for history buffs and political scientists, but also important for its economic, legal, social and scientific value—these artifacts document enduring issues that we continue to wrestle with today.” Her approach involves seeing through the eyes of a researcher, someone sitting at a desk somewhere in the world, trying to learn all he can, say, about the Florida Everglades. If she does her job correctly, that researcher will be able to add all the work Bob Graham did on Everglades’ restoration to this body of knowledge. Though many archivists approach a project putting items in topical order — ordering things in the timeline in which they were created — Davendonis-Todd prefers this categorical approach, saying that “researchers are often limited by time and by money. I like to make it logical, and make it easy for someone to get a real sense of the person.” Though she has only been at work for a few months, Davendonis-Todd was easily able to find a particular photo from Bob Graham’s first gubernatorial campaign. In the photo, the local press corps, dubbed the “Cracker Sackers,” is taking on Graham and his “Graham Crackers” in a touch-football showdown. Like all photos, it instantly conveys a thousand words:

From the Director It’s an exciting time at the Bob Graham Center. We are growing our student programs, we have welcomed learned and articulate speakers and we continue to expand the ways in which we connect to our community. Toward that end, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded the Center a three-year, $3 million grant, to support what the foundation described as our “unique, pioneering approach to prepare University of Florida students to be informed, skilled and engaged citizens.” With the grant, we will embark in 2011 on several key initiatives, including: • Knight Effective Citizenship Fellows, who will do research to develop best practices in encouraging lifelong civic engagement. • A high-tech Civic Debate Wall that will allow students to instantly engage in debate and conversation on issues. Interactive kiosks both on- and off-campus will poll students on their views, and present opposing viewpoints. • An interactive online course called “Rethinking Citizenship” that will teach students civic engagement on the local, state and national levels. We intend to study civic behavior and to determine what practices and activities encourage more effective civic engagement. Our state ranks 46th out of the 50 states in civic health indicators. It is appropriate, therefore, that the University of Florida and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation join together to help Florida train the citizens it needs.

Ann Ann Henderson, Ph.D. Director The Bob Graham Center for Public Service

lightheartedness, enthusiasm and idealism included, as well as those that describe the 70s fashions. The Bob Graham Center has also been giving DavendonisTodd direction, and for the Center, she is categorizing the many audio-visual materials in the collection. “The senator was a very popular guest on the Sunday talk shows, for example, so I’m working to find representative clips for my theoretical Everglades researcher,” she says. “And with these materials, I’m also dealing with copyright issues, with the process of deciding what can be reformatted, and what will be the costs of all that.” Once organized and formatted, these snapshots in time can be loaded onto the Center’s website, providing insight into a remarkable life and career like nothing else. Visit the About page at to learn more about Bob Graham and the Bob Graham Political Papers. Graham Central • Spring 2011 •

University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Box 112030 Gainesville FL 32611-2030 352-846-1575 (Phone) 352-846-1576 (FAX)

One Last Thought How Florida Happened In September, former Florida Governor Buddy MacKay sat down for a chat in Pugh Hall’s Ocora with University of Florida Provost Emeritus David Colburn, a professor emeritus of history and executive director of the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute on Politics and Society. Bob Graham opened the event for the appreciative audience of 100, and the result was a wide-ranging conversation that included recollections from a time when Florida was just a sleepy backwater, war stories from MacKay’s time in office, his views of the state of Florida and national politics and thoughts on his new book, How Florida Happened: The Political Education of Buddy MacKay. Here are a few excerpts from MacKay’s remarks: On his motivation to enter politics: “I had just gotten back from three years in the Air Force, and a number of people in (University of Florida) law school were also veterans. We’d had the ability and the occasion to see what Florida looked like from somewhere else, and I was embarrassed. Reader’s Digest had just run a horrible article

inept state legislature that met for 60 days over two years, and we really transformed it — externally at least — to one of the most powerful in the country. I wanted to do the same for the inner workings … the undue concentration of power in the Florida legislature is an issue not even Congress would put up with.” On working toward consensus, not gridlock: about Florida and how backwards we were, and Time magazine had its article too. I found when I got to the law school, a lot of people were in the same position I was — we had been in the military, a totally integrated institution, and I was totally shocked to come back and find that nothing had changed … having seen Florida from afar, a group of us arrived at a consensus that we wanted to change this. I didn’t want to be part of an embarrassment.”

“Our system is based on dialogue. And dialogue involves my willingness to talk to the other person in the hopes that I can convert them to my point of view. But it carries a correlation with it, that he or she may be right and I may have to change my point of view. That’s what Congress is supposed to be like, and that’s gone. What passes for dialogue is two simultaneous monologues, which sound like bumper stickers.”

On the state of our state’s legislature: “I once ran for Speaker of the House, and my platform was finishing the job of reforming the state legislature. We took the weak,

To view Buddy MacKay’s talk in its entirely, visit the Events Archive page at


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