We are partisans for democracy

What does it mean to be a partisan for democracy? We don’t take sides on the political spectrum, but we do defend the rights everyone has as a democratic citizen — from voting to protesting to consuming information from a free press that serves as a check on political leaders.

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy draws from the humanities and social sciences to examine democracy from multiple angles. This cross-discipline collaboration is evident in our research, education, and outreach efforts.

We educate the next generation of democratic citizens through our Nevins Fellows program, monitor attitudes toward democracy with the Mood of the Nation poll, and host speakers and events that bring people from diverse backgrounds and points of view together to discuss the role of democracy in our society.

We make all of this happen in partnership with our centers of excellence, the Center for American Political Responsiveness and the Center for Democratic Deliberation, and many other organizations throughout the College of the Liberal Arts and the broader Penn State community.

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Democracy Works Podcast

Book bans are never just about books

Book bans are nothing new in the United States, but  our guest this week says the current movement to restrict access to books about race and gender has a different flavor than bans in previous eras. Rather than coming from individual parents or from the ground up in a community, demands to ban dozens or even hundreds of books at a time are coming from state legislators or national parent groups who circulate lists of books online. This trend is troubling for free speech and for the democratic processes that govern how students access information in schools.

Joining us to unpack what’s happening and what we can do about is Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at PEN America. He oversees advocacy, analysis, and outreach concerning educational communities and academic institution and drives PEN America’s efforts to catalyze a more informed, civic culture through education and advocacy for the rising generation and the general public.

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