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CDD Cosponsors Honors English Class Spring Break Trip to Civil Rights Movement Locations

This Spring 2014, CDD Advisory Board member Jack Selzer led a group of undergraduate students enrolled in his honors “Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement” course on a week-long Spring Break bus tour of notable Civil Rights Movement locations. The trip was sponsored in part by the Center for Democratic Deliberation.

Penn State students with Civil Rights Movement leader Julian Bond.
(Photo credit: Dominique Ricciardi)

The students visited a number of storied Civil Rights Movement locations, including the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963; Greensboro, North Carolina, where the student sit-in movement began in 1960; Highlander Folk School in the mountains of Tennessee, where civil rights workers trained in non-violence; the “Sweet Auburn” district of Atlanta, home to King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King National Historical Site; and Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, Alabama, where three of the most celebrated civil rights campaigns took place. Throughout the trip, students had the opportunity to meet personally with surviving veterans of the Freedom Struggle. This trip also offered ample opportunity for discussions and activities designed to deepen students’ understanding of this significant episode in American history.

As the students traveled, they tweeted and blogged about their experiences. To view some of their photos and commentary, visit their Storify page or the “PSU Freedom Tour 2014” Course Blog.

Students visit the Civil Rights Memorial at the
Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.  
(Photo credit: Laura Brown)

Professor Tong Zhiwei to Visit School of International Affairs

Professor Tong Zhiwei, one of China's most well-known public intellectuals and a professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, will visit the School of International Affairs for an all-day event titled “China-Constitution-Politics” on April 9, 2014. The event, which will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Greg Sutliff Auditorium of the Lewis Katz Building, is free and open to the public.

The conference will examine issues of Chinese constitutional law and politics, and consider the current movement of government and popular sentiment. This event is made possible with support from the Center for Democratic Deliberation, the Center for Global Studies, the Rock Ethics Institute, and the Coalition for Peace and Ethics.

To view the event flyer, which includes the conference schedule, click here.

The full story is available at Penn State News.

CDD and McCourtney Institute for Democracy Offer Grants for Graduate Students to Attend Frontiers of Democracy Conference

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy and the Center for Democratic Deliberation invite applications for small grants for graduate students interested in attending the Frontiers of Democracy Conference at Tufts University in Boston, July 16-18, 2014.  This conference includes presentations and workshops featuring many of the leading figures in the deliberative democracy movement, including Peter Levine, David Matthews of the Kettering Foundation, and Penn State's own John Gastil.

Grants will be awarded to cover registration for the conference, travel and lodging, and other related expenses.  Interested students should submit a brief (i.e. one-page)  proposal with a paragraph summarizing their interest in the conference and a detailed budget, indicating the exact amount requested.  Proposals should be submitted to Mike Hogan ( by May 1, 2014.

For more information, visit the conference website at:

Major Gift to Penn State Advances the Study of Democracy

Tracy and Ted McCourtney have endowed the Penn State Institute for Democracy with a transformative gift of $3 million that will enable it to advance the study of democracy and the celebration of democratic achievements.

This will provide the Institute for Democracy with a permanent endowment that will help fund student and faculty research and public outreach programs that elevate the quality of public discussions of important issues. In appreciation, the university is now using the name McCourtney Institute for Democracy. This Institute also works closely with the Center for Democratic Deliberation and the Center for American Political Responsiveness.

The full story is available online at Penn State News.

CDD Co-Sponsors Local Public Issues Forum on Standardized Testing in Schools

A Centre County Public Issues Forum on the topic of standardized testing in schools will be held on Thursday, April 24 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. in Schlow Centre Region Library.

The central question to be addressed is:  "What should be the role of standardized state testing in our schools?"  This question will be discussed from various vantage points, which are previewed in this front-page story in the Centre Daily Times.  The forum aims to foster discussion about the role of standardized testing in schools, in light of recent major changes to the Pennsylvania law regarding state educational assessments.

This event, co-sponsored by the Center for Democratic Deliberation, is free and open to the public.

CDD Issues Call for Applications to 2014-2015 Dissertation Fellows Program

The Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD) is pleased to announce the 2014-15 Dissertation Fellows Program, in conjunction with the College of the Liberal Arts (CLA) and the Humanities Initiative Dissertation Release program. These awards provide a one-semester release from teaching or related service and a research grant to humanities graduate students in CLA who are supported on assistantships. Awardees will have the title of CDD Dissertation Fellow.

CDD Dissertation Fellows will continue to receive their regular assistantship stipend. They will also receive a $1000 research fund provided by the CDD to use for equipment, supplies, travel, or other expenses related to the dissertation project. While the course release is for one semester, the award term is the whole academic year. Under the sponsorship of the CDD, Dissertation Fellows will have access to office space for the academic year in 210 Sparks. They also will participate in a faculty-led Dissertation Writing Group and present their research at a public colloquium during the spring semester. CDD Fellows are expected to remain in residence at University Park during the period of the Dissertation Fellows Program and to participate in the activities of the Center.

Application materials are due Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. Additional details and instructions for how to apply are available here.

CDD Fellows to Present Research at CAS Colloquium

The Center for Democratic Deliberation fellows will present their research at the Communication Arts and Sciences Colloquium on Friday, February 28 at 3:35 p.m. in 158 Willard, University Park Campus.  This event is free and open to the public.

The colloquium will feature the following presentations:

“RE: Invention--Transforming the First Canon for the Age of Peer Production"
Kristopher Lotier, CDD Fellow

“Rhetoric & Nomisa”
Billy Saas, CDD Fellow

“‘To Willie with Compliments’: Disclosing and Concealing World War I in Battle of the Somme”
John Minbiole, Rock Ethics Fellow

“‘I Welcome This Debate’: Secrecy, Disclosure, and Metadeliberation in the Edward Snowden Saga”
Mike Bergmaier, CDD Fellow

Penn State Alumni Larry and Lynne Brown Endow Democracy Medal

Penn State alumni Larry and Lynne Brown have endowed a new award coordinated by the Penn State Democracy Institute. The Laurence and Lynne Brown Democracy Medal spotlights and honors the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States and internationally. This academic year, the Democracy Medal will recognize a practical innovation, such as new institutions, laws, technologies or movements that advance the cause of democracy. Next year's award will highlight advances in democratic theory that enrich philosophical or empirical conceptions of democracy.

The Democracy Institute works in partnership with the Center for Democratic Deliberation and the Center for American Political Responsiveness to advance understanding of democracy in the United States and abroad.

For the full details on this new endowed award, see the full story on Penn State Live.

Meira Levinson to Give Twenty-Second Annual Kenneth Burke Lecture in Rhetoric

The Center for Democratic Deliberation is pleased to announce the twenty-second annual Kenneth Burke Lecture in Rhetoric, featuring Meira Levinson, Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her talk, “Teaching as Moral Injury: The Ethics of Educational Injustice,” will be held Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. in Foster Auditorium in the Paterno Library, University Park Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

For additional details on Levinson and her talk, please see the following:

Lecture Abstract:
Both as agents of the state, and as models for children who learn through observing their speech and actions, public school educators and policy makers are responsible for enacting justice. However, because of historical or contextual injustices within the school system and society as a whole, they often face situations in which there are no truly just options. Under these circumstances, they are faced with deciding what "least unjust" action they might take, rather than what the truly just or ethical action would be. Examples include whether to retain an under-served student who has not met the benchmarks to be promoted but who will likely drop out if she is held back, discipline policies that disproportionately punish black boys even when applied in a prima facie neutral manner, budget-driven teacher firings in Los Angeles Unified School District, and conflicts over school closures in a number of urban school districts. In each of these situations, educators and policy makers must act—they cannot sit on the sidelines and do nothing—but in so doing, they may find themselves further perpetuating injustice. These educators hence also experience moral injury: the trauma of doing moral wrong toward others, which inflicts a moral wrong upon themselves.

In this lecture, Levinson will draw upon case studies of dilemmas of educational justice to address the questions: What options are open to teachers, principals, and policy makers in these situations? How can they best be prepared to identify, reason, and take action about these dilemmas of educational injustice? What principles define educators' and policy makers' obligations toward students? Likewise, what principles should guide society's obligations toward educators who suffer moral injury?

Levinson’s Bio:
Meira Levinson is a normative political philosopher by training, who draws upon scholarship from multiple disciplines as well as her eight years of experience teaching in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools. Her most recent book, No Citizen Left Behind (Harvard University Press, 2012), shows how schools can help tackle a civic empowerment gap that is as shameful and anti-democratic as the academic achievement gap targeted by No Child Left Behind. In 2013, it was awarded the Michael Harrington Award from the American Political Science Association, the Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award from the National Council for the Social Studies, and a Critics Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association. Levinson’s other publications include The Demands of Liberal Education (Oxford University Press, 1999), the co-authored Democracy at Risk (Brookings Press, 2005), the co-edited Making Civics Count (Harvard Education Press, 2012), and more than 30 scholarly and popular articles and book chapters.

A national leader in civic education, Levinson serves on advisory committees or boards of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, CIRCLE/Tisch College, Generation Citizen, National Action Civics Collaborative, the Civic and Moral Education Initiative at Harvard, and Theory and Research in Education. She also was a writer for the newly-drafted, multi-state College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

Levinson’s newest project on “Justice in Schools” combines philosophical analysis and school-based case studies to illuminate the complex dimensions of evaluating, achieving, and teaching justice in schools. The project is intended to give educators tools for making just decisions in their own practice, and also to push political theorists to develop theories of justice that are robust enough to address complex school-based dilemmas. This project, like her previous research, reflects Levinson’s commitment to achieving productive cross-fertilization—without loss of rigor—among scholarship, policy, and practice.

Levinson earned a DPhil in political theory from Nuffield College, Oxford, and a BA in philosophy from Yale University. She has been honored with grants and fellowships from the Spencer Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, National Academy of Education, and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), among others. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Boston.


Co-sponsors of the Twenty-Second Annual Kenneth Burke Lecture in Rhetoric include the Center for American Political Responsiveness; College of Education; Democracy Institute; Department of Communication Arts and Sciences; Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education; Department of English; Office of Multicultural Programs, College of Education; D.J. Willower Center for the Study of Leadership and Ethics; University Libraries.

CDD Issues Call for 2014 Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric Essay Submissions

Penn State’s Center for Democratic Deliberation offers an annual Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric, awarded to the best essay written by a graduate student in one of Penn State’s liberal arts disciplines on the subject of rhetoric in its many forms—as historical, critical, or theoretical discourse.

Papers might address pedagogical methods or issues; offer textual criticism (“rhetorical analysis”) of significant documents; offer theoretical or historical insights on items in the rhetorical tradition; discuss rhetoric as an organizing principle for English, Communication Studies, the liberal arts or the contemporary university; or consider rhetoric in relation to African-American studies, cultural materialist critiques, feminism, post-colonial criticism, science and technology, etc. Papers written for seminars or conferences, or composed specifically for the Burke Prize, are all welcome. The essays, which should have been composed for the most part during the calendar year, will be judged on the basis of their scholarship, significance, and rhetorical artistry. (Essays submitted previously for the prize should not be resubmitted.) A prize of $500.00 will be awarded to the winning graduate student.

Essays are due Tuesday, April 1. For additional details, and to download the 2014 Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric call for submissions, please click here.