By ReadTheSpirit Founding Editor David Crumm
Welcome! In this special new Web site, you’ve got a rare opportunity to help one of the world’s leading research centers, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) reshape the way scholars -– and leaders throughout American life –- understand our values.
HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR THE IN-DEPTH SURVEY?
Type your Email address into the box in the left corner of this Web page. You will receive a confirming Email — which is our way of making sure you’re a real person, not a spammer — then, Dr. Baker will contact you several times in coming months with a longer online survey.
IF I SIGN UP FOR THIS, CAN I GET OUT LATER?
Absolutely. You can opt out at any time. You’re in charge.
WHY SHOULD I HELP?
Our values shape our lives, but most Americans complain that our leaders often don’t understand us. Dr. Baker and the ISR are working from the grassroots, trying to completely rethink the way researchers talk to us about our values — the way they understand our most important beliefs. To have your voice heard, you can comment daily on this site and take our quick “Quick Polls,” too — but helping with the larger survey will give the ISR researchers your fullest voice.
PLUS — if you help with the larger survey, Dr. Baker will send survey participants several inside reports on the research as we go. You’ll be an insider in the project.
This is a remarkably rare opportunity. Normally, researchers poll randomly and carefully select a handful of respondents. How many times have you heard someone say this: “I’ve never been polled. I wish they’d ask me what I think.” Well, this is your chance. Dr. Baker and the ISR are experimenting here with asking Americans in a wide-open fashion what you think.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Understanding American values can help leaders make better decisions, can reduce the sometimes angry friction that often bubbles to the surface in our culture — and gives all of us the satisfaction of knowing that our voices have been heard.
WILL THE COMMENTS ON THIS SITE GET UGLY?
People will express strong beliefs here. And Dr. Baker is asking about hot-button values in our lives. However, both ReadTheSpirit and Dr. Baker’s ISR have careful guidelines about public discussion. We will control obscenity. We won’t allow personal attacks on individuals — or hateful attacks on groups of people. This is a sincere, good-faith attempt to ask you all, as Americans, to really tell us what you think. We’ve also posted a formal “Statement of Purpose and Principles.”
CAN I EMAIL YOU DIRECTLY?
Sure. Our Email address is: [email protected].
WHO IS THIS DR. BAKER?
He’s a world-class scholar, but as you regularly visit this site, you can call him “Wayne.” He’s a very down-to-earth fellow with years of experience in talking to men and women about what matters most in our lives.
Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the senior faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, one of the world’s leading business schools.
He speaks at universities and conferences around the world.
Wayne earned his doctorate in sociology from Northwestern University and held a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University. He taught at the University of Chicago, which is yet another internationally known center of sociological research, before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan.
He specializes in researching the Question of Values –- trying to help people more clearly understand the core beliefs and desires that motivate us and shape our vision of the world around us.
He’s the author of “America’s Crisis of Values: Reality and Perception” (Princeton University Press), a book that compares data on American values with research in countries around the world. It’s a landmark in scholarship and, stay tuned to our site here — because one of the gifts we’re going to provide you along the way is a small-group study guide to Wayne’s book if you’d like to dig into this cutting-edge research on what makes us tick, deep within our core values.
One of the book’s most important conclusions is that Americans are exceptional compared with other countries in the world in our strong commitment to our values coupled with an equally strong desire to express ourselves. Using World Values Survey data from scores of countries around the world, Wayne demonstrates how this very potent mix of values and self expression explains a lot about the U.S.’s rapidly changing culture and our tumultuous political process as well.
Now, Wayne is leading a new initiative at the Institute for Social Research (UofM’s internationally known research center) to track American values over time. His objective is to create a barometer of values and survey Americans nationwide on a monthly basis. By coming to this site, you’ve got the remarkable opportunity to get in on the ground floor in this landmark project.
Wayne already is an avid reader of ReadTheSpirit and, in his own work over the years, has researched strategies for encouraging the growth of online communities.
SO, WHAT WILL DR. BAKER ASK US?
The short answer is: Lots.
He’ll ask about the things that really matter in our daily lives.
What are values? What are our values?
Are American values unique?
What are the right questions to ask Americans about their values?
He’ll ask all kinds of very timely questions — so check back often. You won’t want to miss the latest opportunity to express yourself.
Because the U.S. is involved in a historic presidential election, he’ll ask about the campaigns and the choices we’re making along the way.
Please –- bookmark this page. Click on the “Share This” link to spread the word (we provide various options via “Share This” to make it easy to tell your friends about this page).
And get ready to express yourself.
We not only want to know what you think. But, in this rare opportunity, expressing what you think may make a real difference in the way Americans understand ourselves –- and the world around us.
In this remarkable spot on the Worldwide Web, you’re shaping our future.
Want to read more about Wayne and his other work?
Check out his personal web site at: www.waynebaker.org