THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF VALUES IN PUBLIC LIFE invited a diverse group of scholars to begin a dialogue in the aftermath of the 1996 legislation retructuring public assistance. Our aim was not to rehash welfare reform. It was to explore a broader perspective for assessing the current state and future direction of American social provision. An extraordinary conversation unfolded over the next three years, drawing on current work in a number of disciplines, and focusing on a question of deep concern to us all: Who will provide?
We are grateful to each of our co-authors in this volume for their willingness to present papers that often ventured across boundaries to explore a wider terrain. Those presentations would not have sparked such interesting and enjoyible exchanges were it not for the deeply collegial and thoughtful contributions of the colleagues who participated in the Harvard Faculty Seminar on Public Life and the Renewal of Democracy: Lawrie Balfour, Evelyn Brooks Higgin- botham, Allen Callahan, James Carroll, David Ellwood, Marshall Ganz, Jon Gunnemann, David Hall, Stuart Hauser, Douglas Holt, Janet Jakobsen, Barry Karl, Elaine Kamarck, Christine Letts, Jane Mansbridge, Mark Moore, Katherine Newman, Linda Nicholson, Gary Orfield, Robert Putnam, Paula Rayman, Kathleen Sands, Juliet Schor, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Jeffrey Seglin, Bernard Steinberg, Jim Wallis, Cornel West, Preston Williams, and Julie Boatright Wilson.
Like a good dinner with friends, a sustained conversation doesn't happen automatically. In this case, it was made possible by the dedicated work of Center staff. Donna Verschueren and Nancy Nienhuis provided steady support for this project amid many other duties. Sam Herring and Betsy Perabo assisted the seminar with a review of current literature and research on faith-based organizations and social services. Elizabeth Parsons provided skillful coordination and thoughtful reflection to turn draft papers into revised essays for publication. Sarah Moses furthered that process and prepared the integrated bibliography.
We are grateful as well to Rafael Sagalyn, our agent, who observed the seminar in action and helped to make the publication of its work a reality. Our special thanks are due to Richard Higgins who, amid the demands of family and journalism, carved out time and summoned patience to apply a clear mind to the task of final editing.