SPRINGFIELD – Kent Redfield, professor of political studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is the editor of Democratic Renewal: A Call to Action from America's Heartland, published last month by the Midwest Democracy Network.
The book is a series of essays profiling issues involving democratic institutions in five Midwestern states – Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Redfield's own essay, titled "Keeping Faith: the Struggle for Democracy in America," examines perceived present threats to American democracy, such as public apathy, political corruption, election concerns, and more.
Redfield said that he believes all of these things have a negative effect on public views of the political system. However, he said working on the book was challenging but enjoyable because "it gave me the opportunity to take the research I do and then apply it, in addition to working with groups that are trying to institute what I think are very positive changes."
The entire book, along with summaries of the authors' state-specific findings and reform recommendations, is available online at www.MidwestDemocracyNetwork.org.
A member of the UIS faculty since 1979, Redfield currently serves as interim director of UIS' Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies, housed within the Center for State Policy and Leadership. He also directs the Sunshine Project, a campaign finance research project funded by the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation.
Redfield's previous books are Cash Clout, a look at financing legislative elections in Illinois, and Money Counts, which examines the role of money in the state's politics. In addition to Illinois campaign finance, he has conducted extensive research in the area of political ethics.
Established in 2006, the Midwest Democracy Network is a nonpartisan alliance of public interest groups dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions and practices. MDN comprises nearly 30 organizations including the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Affiliates are both state-based reform advocacy organizations and national research and policy institutions.