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Directors

Debra Hawhee headshot

Debra Hawhee is Professor of English and Communication Arts and Sciences as well as Director of Graduate Studies in English at Penn State University. She studies and teaches histories and theories of rhetoric with a particular focus on rhetoric's less-than-rational elements. She has written about bodily and material theories of rhetoric, ancient and modern. She is author of Moving Bodies: Kenneth Burke at the Edges of Language, which received the 2010 Diamond Anniversary Book Award from the National Communication Association, as well as Bodily Arts: Rhetoric and Athletics in Ancient Greece. Hawhee is co-author, with Sharon Crowley, of Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students, now in its fifth edition. Her research has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities. She has published articles in RhetoricaPhilosophy and RhetoricQuarterly Journal of SpeechCollege EnglishRhetoric Society Quarterly,Advances in the History of Rhetoric, and College Composition and Communication. Most recently she received an NEH fellowship for 2014-2015, during which time she completed her book manuscript about animals in the history of rhetoric titled "Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw: Animals, Language, Sensation."


Christopher Beem headshotChristopher Beem (PhD, University of Chicago) is managing director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. He is the author or co-editor of five books, including The Necessity of Politics (University of Chicago Press).  His latest book, Democratic Humility: Reinhold Niebuhr, Neuroscience and America’s Political Crisis (Lexington Books, 2015) argues that democracy requires a specific kind of humility to counter our natural inclination to self-delusion and self-righteousness. Before joining the Institute, Beem served as grants and communications manager for Next Door, a nonprofit organization dedicated to early childhood education in Milwaukee’s central city. Before that, he directed the Democracy and Community Program at the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread Conference Center.


John Gastil headshotJohn Gastil is Director of The McCourtney Institute for Democracy and Head and Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences. He specializes in political deliberation and group decision making. John's work on the Citizens’ Initiative Review has helped evaluate an exciting new form of public deliberation that should improve initiative elections. The Jury and Democracy Project has investigated, and hopefully helped vindicate, the jury system as a valuable civic educational institution. John has assisted with the Cultural Cognition Project in demonstrating the ways in which our deeper values bias how we learn about issues and form opinions. He has authored, co-authored, or edited eight books including Political Communication and Deliberation, The Group in Society, The Jury and Democracy, and Democracy in Motion. John holds a BA in Political Science from Swarthmore College and a Master's and PhD in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.