Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy

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.

Stay Informed:

Democracy Works Podcast

February 12, 2024 - 10:00 am

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, one of America’s leading experts on the far right, joins us this week to discuss what draws people to political extremism online and offline — and what we can do to combat it. 

Miller-Idriss is the director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) at American University and author of the book Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right. As you’ll hear, PERIL takes a public health approach to preventing violent extremism and provides tools and resources to help communities create resilient democracies. 

In the interview, Miller-Idriss discusses how extremism and political violence are linked to our desire for community. This dynamic means that extremist ideas can pop up in seemingly innocuous places from martial arts groups to online wellness communities. She says understanding this dynamic is key to moving people away from extremist spaces and into constructive communities.

Miller-Idriss visited Penn State as part of the Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar exploring the theme, “Birthing the Nation: Gender, Sex and Reproduction in Ethnonationalist Imaginaries.”

Upcoming Events

March 14, 2024
4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center
March 20, 2024
noon–1:30 p.m.
Grucci Room, 102 Burrowes Building
March 28, 2024
6:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Freeman Auditorium, 117 HUB-Robeson Center
April 1, 2024
7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
Alumni Hall, HUB-Robeson Center
April 9, 2024
10:00 a.m.
Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
April 10, 2024
4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
April 17, 2024
4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library

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