Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy


Whether they are in big cities or small towns, Nevins Fellows have the opportunity to directly impact the communities in which they work. The experiences plant the seed for a future working in advocacy groups and allow fellows to have experiences outside of their comfort zones.

Nevins Fellow Victoria Phelps interned at the Participatory Budgeting Project in Brooklyn, New York. While there, she created tools that the organization uses to bring the participatory budgeting process to cities around the country.

“I wanted the opportunity to meet people who lead different lives from me and whose experiences informed their opinions,” Victoria says. “I made the assumption that no one really cares about democracy, but to see people who work long hours at minimum wage jobs take the time to come in and have conversations about these things at night was so inspiring.”

Nevins Fellow Christopher Carver, a senior majoring in Education and Public Policy, completed his internship at the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution and said the experience changed the way he thinks about political polarization and the need for bipartisan solutions.

“There are a lot of problems this country faces that people on both sides of our political spectrum agree on, but do not realize,” Carver said. “I believe engaging with individuals a person does not think they will agree with allows for that clarity to reveal itself. Through the process of taking steps towards consensus on issues, compassion and trust are also built.”

2024 Fellows

Congratulations to the following students, who will be completing Nevins Fellows internships this summer:

Internship Organization
Nicholas Bennett
Living Room Conversations
Eric Farall
Jordin Giovagnoli
National Civic League
Shadae Lovelace
Committee of Seventy
Madeline Shanafelt
Austin Civilian Conservation Corps
Jinyang (Alice) Yuan
American Promise

Democratic Leadership Course

CAS/PL SC 209: Democratic Leadership

Penn State students who are interested in participating in Nevins Fellows program should register for the Democratic Leadership course

This one-credit course provides a background for this approach to democratic leadership, and it also prepares students for the Nevins Fellows paid internship program in the summer. Those who complete this course will have first priority when awarding these internships each year. McCourtney Institute leadership, in collaboration with the course instructor, will select 10-12 students from the course to receive an internship.

The course includes workshops that introduce students to effective civic leaders in government or the non-profit sector, as well as seminars that cover democracy, dialogue, and deliberation more broadly.