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Harvard prof Robert Putnam honored at the White House

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Harvard professor Robert Putnam, whose influential book “Bowling Alone’’ examined civic engagement in the United States, is among 12 people who received the 2012 National Humanities Medal from President Obama on Wednesday. Putnam was honored, according to a White House press release, for “deepening our understanding of community in America.” In a phone interview before the event, Putnam said past recipients have tended to be novelists or historians, not social scientists. “I was pretty shocked,” he said. “This is very distinguished company, of course, that I’m being included in.” He also said the medal isn’t just for him. “I have had a large research team over the years,” Putnam said. “This award is not just for me personally, but for my researchers too.” . . . Meanwhile, Leslie Cohen Berlowitz, the longtime head of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was spied dining with a group at Giulia in Cambridge the other night. Berlowitz is on leave from her job while an outside law firm investigates reports that she embellished her academic credentials for a decade and received more pay than her peers at similar institutions.

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