Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy

Center for Democratic Deliberation

Center for Democratic Deliberation

Rhetoric is never empty. Words always matter. Knowing how to use rhetoric effectively and responsibly—whether in speech, writing, or creative expression—is essential to healthy democratic deliberation.

The Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD), founded in 2006, is a nonpartisan interdisciplinary center that promotes research and programming focused on rhetorical aspects of democratic deliberation. We study how people use language and communication, speaking and writing, argument and persuasion, or dialogue and debate to impact the quality of civic discourse.

The CDD thus advocates a variety of humanistic resources that encourage constructive norms of agreement and disagreement, of consensus and dissent, of civic engagement and decision-making. We invite you to learn more about our research and programming as one of two centers of excellence within the McCourtney Institute for Democracy.

Faculty Advisory Board

Members of the Faculty Advisory Board advise the Director, particularly on matters of programming. Members are invited to serve by the Director. Terms of service typically last two academic years.

Current members:

  • Suresh Canagarajah, Edwin Earle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics and English (2023-25)
  • Jeremy David Engels, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences (2023-25)
  • Ekaterina Haskins, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences (2023-25)
  • Debra Hawhee, McCourtney Professor of Civic Deliberation, Senior Scholar, McCourtney Institute for Democracy, and Professor of English and Communication Arts and Sciences (2023-25)
  • John “Jack” Selzer, Liberal Arts Professor Emeritus, English (2023-25)
  • Kirt Wilson, Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences (2023-25)

Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement

The CDD supports the work of Jack Selzer and his project, The Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement. The website aims to supply teachers, students, and citizens with the raw materials necessary to sustain their own investigations of the civil rights movement. It includes primary materials, background information, and research assistance related to individual speeches or songs or documents or images associated with the African American freedom struggle, especially from 1955 to 1972.