Paul Loeb

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Soul of a Citizen: An Antidote to Powerlessness and Cynicism

Ideal Use: Activism, Civic Engagement, Environmental Programs, Leadership, Service Learning and Social Change programs

Watch a video of an April 2011 talk at Georgia’s Clayton State

How do we learn to speak out on our deepest beliefs? How do we get our campuses more involved? Speaking with passion and hope, Paul Loeb is the author of Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Hope in a Time of Fear, and Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus. Loeb explores how ordinary citizens, and students in particular; can make their voices heard and actions count in a time when we’re told neither matter. Assigned at hundreds of colleges, and with over a quarter million copies in print, Paul Loeb’s books explore how ordinary citizens, of all ages, learn to take committed stands. He describes how people get involved in larger community issues and what stops them from getting involved; how they burn out in exhaustion or maintain commitment for the long haul; how involvement can give a rare sense of connection and purpose. Focusing particularly on the struggle of current students to find their voice in these challenging times, he challenges us all to help create a better world.

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Paul Rogat Loeb has spent 40 years researching and writing about citizen responsibility and empowerment, asking what makes some people choose lives of social commitment, while others abstain. The Impossible Will Take a Little While was named the #3 political book of that year by the History Channel and the American Book Association. Both The Impossible and Soul of a Citizen’s newly revised second edition won the Nautilus Award for best social change books in their respective years. Paul has also written two other widely praised books, Nuclear Culture and Hope in Hard Times. An associated scholar at Seattle’s Center for Ethical Leadership, Loeb attended Stanford University and the New School for Social Research. His lectures have earned enthusiastic responses at over 400 colleges and universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Chicago, MIT, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Columbia. He’s also keynoted numerous conferences like the American College Personnel Association, National Education Association, American Society on Aging, Education Commission of the States, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, an annual conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education, national environmental conferences, and a national summit of college presidents. His January 2002 talk at the annual provost’s conference of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities helped inspire what is now a 200-campus American Democracy Project. In 2008 Loeb worked with Campus Compact to create and coordinate the Campus Election Engagement Project, helping colleges and universities in 15 states engage their students in the election.

Because they offer uniquely intimate perspectives on the fundamental questions of our time, Loeb’s books have been praised, quoted and discussed in the New York Times, Washington Post, London Sunday Times, Newsweek, Time, The Economist, Los Angeles Times, Psychology Today, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Atlantic Monthly. Loeb has been featured in over 700 TV and radio interviews, including programs on CNN, PBS, C-Span, National Public Radio, the BBC, the NBC, CBS, and ABC radio networks, The NBC Nightly News, and national German, Australian, and Canadian radio.

“Soul of a Citizen helps us find the faith we need to act on our deepest beliefs–and keep on.” -Marian Wright Edelman, president, The Children’s Defense Fund

“You are part of what’s good about this world and I admire your work very much.”—Bill Moyers “Rich, engaging, clearly written. An essential book for anyone who wants to work for change. The book will inspire people new to activism, and deals with cynicism and burnout in a good way for movement veterans. Altogether, a wonderful job, a work that’s rich with specific experience, not abstract theorizing.” –Howard Zinn, author, People’s History of the United States

“I stayed up half the night reading Soul of a Citizen, finding it a beautiful and morally transcendent work. Paul Loeb is a personal hero of mine who gives decency and generosity a political character, in the humblest of ways. The new edition is magnificent.”—Jonathan Kozol

“Soul of a Citizen has been a powerful resource to get thousands of students involved in their communities, giving them the opportunity to apply their learning in meaningful ways.  This updated edition is both timely and exceptionally useful to campuses that want to reclaim higher education’s central role in educating responsible, democratic citizens.”—Carol Geary Schneider, President, American Association of Colleges and Universities

“Should be mandatory reading for anyone over the age of 12—especially every woman or man who has traded ‘I give a damn’ for ‘I give up.’”—San Francisco Chronicle

Soul has been a powerful inspiration to citizens acting for environmental sanity, showing how they can take committed stands, even if they don’t know every last answer. The new edition is even more inspirational.”—Bill McKibben

“When my daughter asked from college how to be an effective grassroots citizen, I gave her Paul’s book. The new edition is even more powerful.”—Josette Sheeran, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Program

“As he tells the stories of ordinary people who became activists, Loeb examines the stumbling blocks-perceived powerlessness, cynicism, burnout-that keep most Americans from participating in the public sphere, as well as the rewards of following a different path.” -Sierra Club magazine

For the Press

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