When I was six years old, living in a Veterans' Village in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an eight-year-old bully named Clifford terrorized the younger kids. One day, five of us decided that we had had enough, ambushed him, and extracted our revenge. He never bothered us again. That formative experience of "people power" inspired my lifelong belief that ordinary citizens, united, can change power relationships and improve the quality of their lives.
In 1972, while still working on my doctoral dissertation for Stanford, I had the opportunity to found the Political Science Deptartment at the University of Colorado Denver. Conceiving our topic of study as "the critical and creative study of people, power, and the public good," I began to hire a faculty committed to applying rigorous social-science theory and methodology to the most pressing problems of our local community and the larger world. Our keynotes have been values-based science, excellence in teaching, service to the community, multidisciplinary approaches, and personal engagement in the political process.
During the second half of my 40-year career at CU Denver, I have shifted my focus from department building to publication, while remaining committed to excellence in teaching. My publications in communal and utopian studies, American political thought and practice, and youth politics have focused on people's efforts, from childhood through maturity, to address critical problems and improve their own lives and those of others. The book I am currently working on, Children's Voices in Politics, develops the thesis that we come to politics too late if we want our democracy to engage its citizens on a regular, active basis. Part of my argument challenges the notion that a person's political voice should begin to count only at some predetermined, arbitrary age.