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Brown Democracy Medal

The medal brings new ideas and innovations the public recognition they deserve, thereby accelerating their positive impact on democracy.

The Laurence and Lynne Brown Democracy Medal spotlights and honors the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States and internationally. Under the award program, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy will recognize practical innovations, such as new institutions, practices, technologies or organizations that advance the cause of democracy along with theoretical advances that enrich philosophical or empirical conceptions of democracy.

The Brown Democracy Medal and $5,000 are awarded annually. The winning project is published by an academic press. Winners are invited to Penn State's University Park campus to accept the medal, give a public lecture, and appear on the Democracy Works podcast.

Winning the Brown Democracy has been an incredible validation of our work. Being recognized as the top democratic innovation around the world has served as a universal signal of the importance of participatory budgeting. It has also demonstrated that our organization, the Participatory Budgeting Project, is a leader and expert, a trusted partner for navigating the next frontiers of democracy. 

Josh Lerner
Co-Executive Director, Participatory Budgeting Project
2014 Brown Democracy Medal 

The Brown Democracy Medal certainly opened up a broader audience for my long-term research program. Word about the Brown Democracy Medal reached the Ohio House of Representatives, which issued a research commendation for contributions to democratic theory and practice. 

Albert Dzur
Distinguished Research Professor, Bowling Green State University
2017 Brown Democracy Medal recipient

2020 Recipient

Srdja Popovic, Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies

Past Recipients

2019: David Farrell and Jane Suiter, Irish Citizens' Assembly Project 
Book: Reimagining Democracy: Lessons in Deliberative Democracy from the Irish Front Line

2018: Micah Altman and Michael McDonald, Public Mapping Project
Book: The Public Mapping Project: How Public Participation Can Revolutionize Redistricting

2017: Albert Dzur, Bowling Green State University
Book: Reshaping Public Institutions Together: Professional Citizens in a Participatory Democracy

2016: Pippa Norris, Electoral Integrity Project
Book: Why American Elections Are Flawed (And How to Fix Them)

2015: Joan C. Tronto, University of Minnesota
Book: Who Cares? How to Reshape a Democratic Politics

2014: Josh Lerner, Participatory Budgeting Project
Book: Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy?