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RCL Student Wins CDD Op-Ed Contest

RCL Student Wins CDD Op-Ed Contest

Kelly Friday

The Center for Democratic Deliberation held an essay writing contest open to students enrolled in Rhetoric & Civic Life. The topic asked students to reflect on their high school experience after being in college. The CDD is pleased to announce that Kelly Friday won the contest with her essay focusing on a standardized education model. The essay was published in the Centre Daily Times on Saturday, November 8 as part of an op-ed forum led by David Hutchinson, who is the chair of the Public Issues Forums of Centre County. The links to these op-eds can be found here:

CDD Receives NCA Advancing the Discipline Grant

National Communication Association logo

The Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD) at Penn State has been awarded a $5,000 Advancing the Discipline Grant from the National Communication Association (NCA). The grant will be used to fund travel scholarships for students attending the CDD’s Speech & Debate as Civic Education Conference, scheduled for March 5-7, 2015 on Penn State’s University Park campus. For more information about the conference, visit

The National Communication Association (NCA) advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific and aesthetic inquiry.  The NCA serves approximately 8,000 scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, the NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.

For more information, visit Follow them on Twitter at and on Facebook at

CDD to Cosponsor Public Issues Forum on the 21st Mission of Schools

As part of our commitment to local community engagement, the Center for Democratic Deliberation is co-sponsoring a public issues forum on the topic: "What is the 21st Century Mission for our Public Schools?" The forum is this Thursday, November 20 from 6:00pm to 8:30pm at the Fairmount Avenue School. Moderators will lead small group deliberation on three approaches to the question:

1) Prepare Students to be Successful in the Workplace

2) Prepare Students to be Active and Responsible Citizens

3) Help Students Discover and Develop their Talents

For more information on these approaches, the CDD, led by David Hutchinson, helped organize an op-ed forum in the Centre Daily Times. The links to these op-eds are:

Chris Calkins - Approach 1: Prepare Students for Work,

Stephanie Serriere - Approach 2: Improving Democracy Requires Responsible Citizenry

Eric Sauder - Approach 3: Allow Children to Explore, Develop Individual Talents

In addition, the CDD held an essay writing contest for students enrolled in Rhetoric & Civic Life. Kelly Friday, the winner of the contest, had her essay, "Standardized Education Model Not Serving All," published as an op-ed in this forum, and she appeared on a similarly themed mini-forum, which aired on C-Net over the weekend and will air again at 7:00pm on Tuesday.

The event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is not required but encouraged.

Public Issues Forum flyer

Voices of Democracy Launches New Website

Voices of Democracy logo

Voices of Democracy (VOD), the online journal and curriculum resource featuring great speeches and
debates in American history, has launched a new, more user-friendly website, including a new section
of educational materials for Grade 8-12 teachers. Now averaging more than 1500 visitors per day from
around the world, the site has been identified by EDSITEment ( as among
the best educational resources on the web, and it has been supported by grants from the National
Endowment for the Humanities and the National Communication Association. VOD invites contributions
both to its online journal and its growing collection of teachers’ resources. For more information,
including guidelines for contributors, visit:

Josh Lerner Wins Brown Democracy Medal

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy has selected Josh Lerner and the Participatory Budgeting Project as the inaugural recipient for the Laurence and Lynne Brown Democracy Medal. The medal celebrates the best practical innovation that is advancing democracy in the United States and around the globe. The Participatory Budgeting Project is a nonprofit organization that empowers community members to make informed decisions about public budgets. The project, starting in Brazil, now spans the globe. Josh's team has helped it become a reality in California,New York, and Illinois, with more experiments happening across the United States. “We are deeply honored to receive the Brown Democracy Medal, in recognition of our work to give thousands of people real power over real money,” said Josh Lerner, Executive Director of PBP. “In just a few years, we have shown how a small non-profit organization can bring together hundreds of partners to build a new model for local democracy.”

Speech & Debate Society Completes Week of Public Debates

Ayad Muhammad and Melinda Formola following
their victory at James Madison University.

The Penn State Speech & Debate Society traveled to both James Madison University and Clarion University for public debates last week. At JMU, the society participated in an international week debate on the topic, “Resolved: Local communities, on balance, have benefited from globalization.” Penn State joined Emory University on the negative and squared off against George Washington University and Davis & Elkins College. The Penn State debaters, Ayad Muhammad and Melinda Formola, delivered the closing speeches for the negative and argued  that globalization harmed the environment and economies of small communities around the globe. Following an audience discussion moderated a professor in political science at JMU, the audience vote came in and the negative team, led by Penn State, won by a razor thin five ballots.

At Clarion, the team participated in a friendly exchange between Pennsylvania colleges. They debated whether Division I football and basketball athletes should be paid. Clarion, a NCAA Division II school, defended the resolution while Penn State negated. The crowd was evenly split between the arguments on! both sides. Jordan Todd, the society’s president, found the topic refreshing and “a nice departure from the normal political discussions” usually accompanied in debates. He also welcomed building connections to other schools through debate. Jordan said, “This was a great opportunity to build relationships with other universities across the state, so we can continue to have these events in the future.” The Penn State Speech & Debate Society plans to continue this trend of promoting debate across Pennsylvania, including bringing the University of Pittsburgh to campus in April 2015.

Speech and Debate Society to Host Constitution Day Debate

The Penn State Speech & Debate Society is pleased to announce that they will be hosting a debate on Constitution Day, September 17, 2014. The topic will be “Resolved: A Privacy Amendment should be added to the Constitution” and will feature four members of the society. The event will take place from 2:30pm to 4:00pm in Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library. As with all of their public debates, speeches from the audience are welcome.

Due to the generosity of the Office of Undergraduate Education and Penn State University Libraries, they will be giving away free pocket Constitutions to everyone who attends the debate. To commemorate the day, the Pattee and Paterno Library will have a book exhibit of works pertaining to the Constitution, and the Office of Student Affairs and Penn State Law will be hosting a voter registration drive between 10:00am and 4:00pm in the HUB. The Society encourages everyone who plans to attend the debate to also take part in these other festivities.

This event is free and open to the public.

Speech and Debate Society to Host Constitution Day Debate

McCourtney Institute for Democracy Announces Fall Speaker Series

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy is excited to announce our first of many excellent speakers in our series on Media and Deliberation.

Thomas E. Patterson, the Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, will be giving a talk titled "Feeding the Fire: The Media's Role in Party Polarization" this Tuesday, September 9th at 4:30pm in the Foster Auditorium (102 Paterno Library) on the University Park campus. Thomas Patterson is the author of The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty, the award-winning Out of Order, and, most recently, Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism.

This event is free and open to the public.

Thomas E. Patterson (Harvard University)
“Feeding the Fire: The Media’s Role in Party Polarization”
Tuesday, September 9th at 4:30pm in the Foster Auditorium (102 Paterno Library)

Please see the attachment to learn more about our speakers scheduled for this semester.

In addition to his public lecture, Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University, will be giving an informal roundtable talk on "The State of Political Communication Research" this Tuesday, Sept. 9th at 11:30am in 124 Sparks. The McCourtney Roundtable talks are organized primarily for interested faculty and graduate students.

Professor Walter Parker to Deliver Talk on Education and Democracy

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy is hosting Walter Parker, a professor of Education and Political Science at the University of Washington, for a roundtable discussion and lecture on the role democracy and deliberation play in education settings. Both events are scheduled for Friday, September 12, 2014.

"Democracy and deliberation in the K-12 classroom”

124 Sparks Building: 12:00pm - 1:00pm, Sept. 12, 2014

Bring your lunch to this roundtable and discuss the possibilities of deliberation in the K-12 classroom.

“Education for Democracy: Key Issues and Loads of Disagreement“

303 Rackley Building: 2:00pm - 3:00pm, Sept. 12, 2014

Who can legitimately decide the particulars of civic education in schools? In a theocracy, the clergy decides. In a military dictatorship, it’s the generals. But in a democracy there are many legitimate voices, each clamoring for curricular influence. Who gets to decide—parents? educators? citizens? students? Education for democracy is challenging from this perspective, not only because it aims to shape children into particular kinds of citizens, but because it encourages children to decide what kinds of citizens they want to be. Refreshments will be served.

The events are co-sponsored by the University Park Allocation Committee and Educational Policy Studies Student Association.

CDD Hosting Conference on Speech & Debate as Civic Education

“U.S congresswoman Barbara Jordan electrified audiences with her distinct oratory style,
a style she admitted was learned during her years on the Texas Southern University debate team.”
Ronald Goodwin, African Americans of Houston.

On March 5-7, 2015, a conference on Speech & Debate as Civic Education will be hosted by the Department of Communication Arts & Science and the Center for Democratic Deliberation at Penn State University. The conference will feature a keynote address by former debater and presidential speechwriter, Craig R. Smith, along with a luncheon address by another former debater and former dean of the School of Communication at Northwestern University, David Zarefsky.

The conference is centered on chronicling, theorizing, and illustrating the connections between debate and educating for citizenship in the past, present, and future. It will feature presentations from invited scholars and competitively selected papers that address all aspects of the relationship between curricular or co-curricular speech and debate and civic education.

For more information, please visit the conference website at: