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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.

CDD Issues Call for 2013-2014 Nancy and Joseph Birkle Student Engagement Award Nominations

Each year, the Center for Democratic Deliberation offers an award for students who help to advance the Center's mission of promoting engaged citizenship and public deliberation. Through the generosity of Gretchen A. Birkle ('86), the Nancy and Joseph Birkle Student Engagement Award recognizes at least two students in the College of Liberal Arts--either graduate or undergraduate students--who have made significant contributions to public deliberation and debate on the Penn State Campus, in the State College community, or in the nation or world beyond.

Nominees may be recognized for working to enhance public awareness of important issues, for contributing new or uniquely important information or perspectives to ongoing public discussions, or for upholding high standards of public deliberation in their own speaking or writing or in critiques of deceptive or manipulative communication. Students may be recognized for a specific speech, publication, or other contribution to public deliberations, or they may be honored for ongoing participation in some program or organization that promotes public deliberation. Nominees’ contributions may originate as classroom exercises, service-learning assignments, or academic research or internship projects, but they must culminate in engagement of audiences outside of the classroom and make genuine contributions to the larger “public good.”  In addition to a cash prize, honorees will receive a plaque commemorating their achievements.

Nominations are due Friday, March 21. To learn more about the Birkle Student Engagement Award, and to download the 2013-2014 application, click here.

Democracy Institute Announces Spring 2014 Roundtable Series

This semester the Penn State Democracy Institute will hold a series of Democracy Roundtables.  These roundtables will bring together students, scholars, and members of the public to discuss current ideas and developments in democracy, within the United States or anywhere around the globe.

Each event lasts 60-90 minutes, with only the first 20-30 minutes reserved for presentations. The rest consists of lively question-and-answer and discussion among attendees. The Roundtables also build into their schedule the brownbags, hosted by the Center for American Political Responsiveness with a variable format. The Roundtables are held at various days/times to accommodate the schedules of the featured guests and to permit interested Penn State students and faculty to find at least some sessions that fit their busy schedules.

To view a schedule of the Spring 2014 Roundtables, click here.

For more information on the Penn State Democracy Institute, visit their Website.

Textbook Co-authored by J. Michael Hogan Wins National Communication Association Award

CDD director J. Michael Hogan is the lead author of this year’s winner of the Textbook of Distinction Award from the National Communication Association.  The award-winning book, Public Speaking and Civic Engagement (3rd ed.) is co-authored by Patricia Hayes Andrews and James R. Andrews of Indiana University and Glen Williams of Southeast Missouri State University.  The book reflects the ethical and deliberative emphases of the CDD’s civic education programs, treating effective public speaking as an integral part of engaged citizenship in a democracy.