Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy

Center for Democratic Deliberation Dissertation Fellows

Center for Democratic Deliberation Dissertation Fellows

The Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD) is pleased to announce the 2020-21 Dissertation Fellows Program, in conjunction with the College of the Liberal Arts (CLA) and the Humanities Initiative Dissertation Release Program. These awards provide a one-semester release from teaching or related service and a research grant to humanities graduate students in CLA who are supported on assistantships. Awardees will have the title of CDD Dissertation Fellow.

CDD Dissertation Fellows will continue to receive their regular assistantship stipend. They will also receive a $1,000 research fund provided by the CDD to use for equipment, supplies, travel, or other expenses related to the dissertation project. Although the course release is for one semester, the award term is the whole academic year. 

During the period of their award, dissertation fellows will be asked to:

  1. Organize an occasional reading/discussion group (or a small amount of some other form of scholarly engagement) on aspects of democratic deliberation, broadly defined.
  2. Participate in CDD scholarly events (colloquia, etc.)
  3. Present their dissertation research at an appropriate forum to be determined. 

CDD Fellows are expected to remain in residence at University Park during the period of the Dissertation Fellows Program and to participate in the activities of the Center.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the CDD Dissertation Fellows Program, applicants must meet the following Humanities Initiative Dissertation Release Program criteria:

  1. Students must be enrolled in a CLA department or program, conducting scholarship that reflects the CDD’s concern with civic life and the quality of public deliberation. 
  2. Students must be ABD and supported on assistantship during the CDD Dissertation Fellows Program (2020-21 academic year).
  3. Students must receive a full one-term release from teaching and other duties from their home department/program in order to devote themselves to dissertation research in residence at University Park. (CDD dissertation fellows may travel for research or conference activities with the permission of their Graduate Director.)
  4. Students may not hold any other academic appointment during the CDD Dissertation Fellows Program.

Additional information on the Humanities Dissertation Release is available on the College of the Liberal Arts website

Applications are received by the home department and forwarded to Alena Sunderland at

The deadline for receipt of applications is Monday, April 6, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

2019-20 Dissertation Fellows

Layli Miron Allison Niebauer  were the 2019-20 dissertation fellows. Learn about their research and their approach to democratic deliberation:

Q&A with Layli

Q&A with Allison