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2018 Kenneth Burke Lecture

On April 10, Dr. Robert Asen, Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, delivered the 2018 Kenneth Burke Lecture. His talk, "Lives Lived Together: How John Dewey and Milton Friedman Imagined Human Relationships and Why this Matters for Contemporary Public Engagement," illuminated how interpersonal relationships impact public discourse.

Following Dr. Asen's lecture, the audience reconvened in the Nittany Lion Inn's Faculty-Staff Club for the annual Kenneth Burke Reception and Awards Ceremony. At the event, CDD staff recognized award recipients for student engagement and for excellence in rhetorical scholarship.

Morgan Johnson, a Ph.D Candidate in the Communication Arts and Sciences department, and Brian Anthony Davis, a graduating senior in African American Studies, were honored with the Nancy and Joseph Birkle Engagement Awards. Emily Smith, a Ph.D. Candidate in the English department, won the Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric for her essay "'One Shot' Harris and the Pittsburgh Courier: Photojournalism and Community Historiography."


Dr. Robert Asen delivers 'Lives Lived Together'
Dr. Brad Vivian, CDD Director, and Morgan Johnson, graduate student recipient of the 2018 Nancy and Joseph Birkle Engagement Award


Brian Anthony Davis, undergraduate recipient of the 2018 Nancy and JosephBirkle Engagement Award, and Dr. Brad Vivian, CDD Director
Emily Smith, recipient of the 2018 Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric, and Dr.Debra Hawhee, McCourtney Professor of Civic Deliberation

Call for Applications: Center for Democratic Deliberation Dissertations Fellows (2018-19)

The Center for Democratic Deliberation is pleased to announce the 2018-19 Dissertation Fellows Program, in conjunction with the College of the Liberal Arts (CLA) and the Humanities Initiative Dissertation Release Program. Please see the following link for full applications guidelines: CDD Dissertation Fellows Call - Spring 2018

The Center for Democratic Deliberation is pleased to announce its annual calls for the Kenneth Burke Prize and the Nancy and Joseph Birkle Award.

The Kenneth Burke Prize recognizes exemplary scholarship on rhetoric by a graduate student—whether from historical, critical, or theoretical perspectives—in the form of a single essay. T he Birkle Award honors graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Liberal Arts who have made significant efforts to enhance the state of civic engagement and public discourse concerning important issues. The awards will be presented at the the CDD banquet, following the Kenneth Burke Lecture (on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at the Nittany Lion Inn, 6:00 p.m.). 

See the following awards calls for compete submission information and deadlines: 


The Center for Democratic Deliberation unequivocally supports the decision of the Penn State administration to decline a request for Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and president of the National Policy Institute, to speak on the University Park campus this fall. The administration made this decision based on potential threats to public safety. First Amendment rights are a cornerstone of any democracy. But the recent Unite the Right demonstrations in Charlottesville, VA, which Spencer helped to organize, ended in an unlawful assembly—declared as such by the Charlottesville police.

The Center for Democratic Deliberation is proudly committed to promoting healthy democracy. We do so by studying the most constructive forms of public deliberation. The work of the CDD helps to foster fundamental requirements of a healthy democracy: an engaged and informed citizenry, a culture of vibrant and informed deliberation, and an understanding of dissent in all nonviolent forms. The CDD steadfastly supports the protection of First Amendment rights for all and encourages free speech as an essential condition of effective democratic deliberation.

The Unite the Right demonstrations in Charlottesville led to documented violence, injury, and even death. The CDD considers those activities to constitute domestic terrorism, not lawful assembly or free speech. In fact, we understand the violent displays witnessed in Charlottesville as threats to the principles of equality, pluralism, and nonviolence to which the CDD is dedicated. We believe that First Amendment rights are best exercised and protected by fostering those principles. The Center for Democratic Deliberation therefore stands by the administration’s decision and remains committed to studying and promoting the practice of free and robust democratic deliberation in the future.    

Director of the CDD discusses Congressional District Maps with Governor Tom Wolf

Brad Vivian, Director of the CDD, participated on a public panel with Governor
Tom Wolf about the recent PA Supreme Court decision on congressional district
maps and the affect of district boundaries on civic participation.

Here are some sources for coverage of the event:

Gov. Wolf Visits State College to Talk Redistricting

Daily Collegian: PA governor Tom Wolf addresses gerrymandering, potential changes to state's political map

WTAJ: Gov. Wolf asks for feedback on redistricting state during Town Hall in State College

Centre Daily Times: Gov. Wolf visits State College to seek voter reform input

Chris Beem, Managing Director of the McCourtney Institute, has also initiated public discussions on this vital issue. See his recent commentary here.

Kenneth Burke Lecture

When Apr 10, 2018
from 04:00 PM to 05:40 PM
Where Location TBA
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Robert Asen, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Title: TBA

Camp Rhetoric 2018: Precarious Times, Contested Identities

When Mar 30, 2018 12:00 AM to
Mar 31, 2018 12:00 AM
Where Burrowes and Sparks Buildings
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Camp Rhetoric is a graduate student-centered, inter-university and interdisciplinary conference on rhetoric hosted by the

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Deliberation Nation

When Feb 19, 2018 12:00 AM to
Mar 04, 2018 12:00 AM
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The CDD proudly supports Penn State freshmen honors students, who invite the community to join them in deliberative discussions of local, nat! ional, and global significance and urgency. As part of the Rhetoric and Civic Life course offered as a first-year seminar through the College of the Liberal Arts, students host more than 50 opportunities for town and gown to engage together in serious conversations that challenge participants to reflect on the values that shape their decision-making on important topics of the day.

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CDD Colloquium: "Trump is a Joke: Why Satire Makes Sense When Politics Doesn't"

When Feb 20, 2018
from 03:30 PM to 05:00 PM
Where Location TBA
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Sophia McClennan, Professor of Comparative Literature and International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University

2018 State of State Conference

When Feb 03, 2018
from 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM
Where Alumni Hall, HUB-Robeson Center
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The CDD is excited to support the annual State of State Conference, organized
by student leaders on campus to promote dialogue throughout the university
regarding numerous vital issues.
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