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Center for Global Workers' Rights Conference May 10 in Philadelphia

The Center for Global Workers’ Rights, is pleased to announce an upcoming event, taking place in Philadelphia on May 10 titled, “The Global Spirit of Philadelphia: The ILO, Economic Security, Political Freedom and Labor Rights in the 21st Century.”

Apr 16, 2014

One of The McCourtney Institute for Democracy's research partners, The Center for Global Workers’ Rights, is pleased to announce an upcoming event, taking place in Philadelphia on May 10 titled, “The Global Spirit of Philadelphia: The ILO, Economic Security, Political Freedom and Labor Rights in the 21st Century.” It will be held at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (3355 Woodland Walk, Philadelphia, PA - between Walnut and Sansom) and is free and open to the public. Since the event is held on graduation day  it will be also presented via live streaming: http://www.esc.edu/esc-tv/

The Global Spirit of Philadelphia (flyer)

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy

Penn State Democracy Center receives $3 million gift and will rename the center to the McCourtney Institute for Democracy.

Apr 16, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- Penn State 2013 Philanthropists of the Year Tracy and Ted McCourtney have endowed the Penn State Institute for Democracy with a transformative gift of $3 million that will enable the institute to pursue excellence and leadership in advancing the cause of democracy.

Their gift provides the institute with a permanent endowment that will help fund student and faculty research and public outreach programs that aspire to elevate the quality of public and policy makers’ discussions of important public concerns. In response to the couple’s tremendous generosity, the University will name the Institute in their honor: The McCourtney Institute for Democracy.

A 1965 English graduate, Tracy McCourtney said, “Ted and I are very excited about the innovative work being done by outstanding Penn State students and faculty in the Institute. Our society needs to reverse the trend of gridlock politics throughout the U.S., and we believe that the institute will help advance the best practices of effective democracies and motivate not only Penn State students, but also lawmakers, policymakers and citizens to elevate governing in our country.”

“Tracy and Ted have been leading benefactors to the college for nearly two decades with their visionary gifts for many college priorities, including the Richards Civil War Era Center,” said Susan Welch, Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “Their latest gift gives us a tremendous opportunity to make the College of the Liberal Arts and Penn State the epicenter of innovations in democracy. We are deeply grateful for Tracy and Ted’s dedication and support of the college.”

John Gastil, director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, noted, “Faculty and students engaged with the institute are seeking to address difficult issues from two perspectives: first, encouraging civil discussions and rhetoric aimed at solving problems, and then, helping to understand the appropriate balance among government responsiveness, majority rule, and minority rights. We thank Ted and Tracy very much.”

After her graduation from Penn State, Tracy assisted foster children and families in New York City as a social worker. A 1960 Notre Dame engineering graduate, Ted served four years in the U.S. Navy and then earned a master of business administration degree from Harvard in 1966. For 30 years, he was a general partner at Venrock, a pioneering venture capital fund in emerging technologies and health care. Now an independent investor, Ted served on Notre Dame's Board of Trustees and remains an emeritus trustee.

The McCourtneys' philanthropy at the University of Notre Dame and Penn State has had a lasting impact on students and faculty at both schools. Their four children are involved in careers in social services, education, and business, as well.

“Tracy and Ted McCourtney are an ideal philanthropic partnership. Their professional careers have reflected a commitment to investing in people, whether in business or in families. Their many gifts to Penn State reflect a marriage of compassion and vision, one which has had a profound impact on Penn State and, especially, on the College of the Liberal Arts,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

Over the years, the McCourtneys endowed three undergraduate scholarships, which have helped more than 350 liberal arts students; fellowships and scholarships for graduate students in social sciences and humanities; and faculty professorships in psychology, sociology and American history. The couple also provided critical support for the Moore Building renovation and addition that is benefiting psychology faculty and students; a lead gift to a graduate endowment in honor of Dean Welch; and a fund for the Career Enrichment Network to help students land their first job or succeed in professional or advanced studies after graduation.

In 2013, Penn State honored Tracy and Ted McCourtney with the Philanthropists of the Year Award and inducted them into the Elm Circle of the Mount Nittany Society, which is the highest level of recognition for philanthropy.

The McCourtneys’ newest gift will help the College of the Liberal Arts reach its goals in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality.  The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by June 30, 2014.

 

http://news.psu.edu/story/308309/2014/03/27/academics/mccourtneys-make-transformative-gift-endow-institute-democracy

Seeking Nominations for the Penn State Democracy Medal

Each year, the Penn State Democracy Institute is giving a medal and $5,000 award for exceptional innovations that advance the design and practice of democracy. The medal celebrates and helps to publicize the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States or around the globe. The Institute gives medals in even-numbered years to recognize practical innovations, such as new institutions, laws, technologies, or movements that advance democracy. In odd-numbered years, the awards celebrate advances in democratic theory that provide richer philosophical or empirical conceptions of democracy.

Nov 11, 2013

 

The first medal will be given in 2014 for the best innovation in the practice of democracy. Nominations will be accepted through December 10, 2013, and the awardee will be announced in the spring of 2014. The winner will give a talk at Penn State in September, 2014, when they also receive their medal and $5,000 award. Between the spring announcement of the winner and the on-campus event in the fall, the Institute will provide the recipient with editorial assistance toward completing a short (20-25 page) essay describing the innovation for a general audience. The Institute will publish the essay electronically, possibly in collaboration with an independent press, and make it available to the general public at a very low price (e.g., $1-2), along with a similarly-affordable audio version. These print and audio distillations of the innovation are designed to aid its diffusion.

Award Review Process

All nomination letters must be emailed by December 10, 2013 to democracyinst@psu.edu. Initial nomination letters are simply that, a one-to-two page letter that describes how the nominee’s work meets the criteria for this award and what distinguishes it from other work on democracy. Both self-nominations and nominations of others are welcomed. In either case, email, phone, and postal contact information for the nominee must be included.

By January, 2014, a panel composed of Penn State faculty and independent reviewers will screen those initial nominations and select a subset of nominees who will be notified that they have advanced to a second round. By the end of February, those in the second round will be required to provide further documentation, which includes the following: biographical sketch of the individual or organization nominated (max. 2 pages); two letters of support from persons familiar with their work, particularly those who work independently from the nominee; a basic description of the innovation and its efficacy, with a maximum length of 30 pages of printed materials and/or 30 minutes of audio/video materials; and a one-page description of who would come to Penn State to receive award and who would draft the essay describing the innovation. The review panel will then scrutinize the more detailed applications and select an awardee by the end of April.

Review Criteria

The democratic innovation selected will score highest on these features:

  1. Novelty. The innovation is precisely that—a genuinely new way of thinking about democracy or practicing it. It will likely build on or draw on past ideas and practices, but its novelty must be obvious.
  2. Systemic change. The idea, theory, or practical reform should be able to change systematically how we think about and practice democracy. Ideas should be of the highest clarity and quality, empirical studies should be rigorous and grounded in evidence, and practical reforms must have proof of their effectiveness. The change the innovation brings about should be systematic, in that it can alter the larger functioning of a democratic system over a long time frame.
  3. Potential for Diffusion. The idea or reform should have general applicability across many different scales and cultural contexts. In other words, it should be relevant to people who aspire to democracy in many parts of the world and/or in many different social or political settings.
  4. Democratic Quality. The spirit of this innovation must be nonpartisan and advance the most essential qualities of democracy, such as broad social inclusion, deliberativeness, political equality, and effective self-governance. In practical terms, the nominees themselves may be partisan but their innovation should have nonpartisan or trans-partisan value.
  5. Recency. The award is intended to recognize recent accomplishments, which have occurred during the previous five years. The roots of an innovation could run deeper, but within the past five years, there must have been significant advances in the idea or practical reform.

When choosing among otherwise equally qualified submissions, the review panel will also consider two practical questions. Who would give the lecture on campus and meet with the PSU community? Who would write the essay about the innovation? Neither needs to be the nominee, nor the nominator.

Individuals or organizations who have worked closely with the Institute’s director (Dr. John Gastil) or associate director (Dr. Mark Major) in the past five years are not eligible. For the first five years of the award, Penn State alums or employees are also ineligible.

Questions and Further Information

Any questions or requests for more information should be sent to democracyinst@psu.edu.

The Pennsylvania State University Democracy Institute (http://democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu) promotes rigorous scholarship and practical innovations to advance the democratic process in the United States and abroad. The Institute pursues this mission , in part, through supporting the work of the Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD) and the Center for American Political Responsiveness (CAPR).  The CDD studies and advances public deliberation, whereas CAPR attends to the relationship between the public’s priorities and the actions of elected bodies. Whereas each center focuses on the questions most salient to its mission, the Institute tends to larger issues and connections between those questions. The Institute examines the interplay of deliberative, electoral, and institutional dynamics. It recognizes that effective deliberation among citizens has the potential to reshape both the character of public opinion and the dynamics of electoral politics, particularly in states and local communities. Likewise, political agendas and institutional processes can shape the ways people frame and discuss issues. In practical terms. The main activities of the institute include giving a major annual award for democratic innovation, bringing speakers to campus, sponsoring faculty roundtables and workshops, and financially supporting for student research.

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Former White House Adviser to Deliver Talk on Budget Crisis on Dec. 3

Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policies Priorities and former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, will speak as part of the Penn State Democracy Institute’s lecture series. The talk titled “Making Sense of the Budget Crisis” will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 4:00 p.m. in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The University Libraries will co-sponsor the event.

Nov 11, 2013

Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policies Priorities and former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, will speak as part of the Penn State Democracy Institute’s lecture series. The talk titled “Making Sense of the Budget Crisis” will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 4:00 p.m. in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The University Libraries will co-sponsor the event.

 

Bernstein will speak on the 2013 budget and deficit ceiling crises, as well as those that loom on the horizon for 2014. Bernstein will offer an analysis that draws on his experience as economic adviser and policy analyst in the Obama administration. An extended question-and-answer session will follow the talk.

Bernstein served as Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team from 2009-2011. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC.

Bernstein’s areas of expertise include federal and state economic and fiscal policies, income inequality and mobility, trends in employment and earnings, international comparisons, and the analysis of financial and housing markets.

Based in the College of the Liberal Arts, the Penn State Democracy Institute brings together the top faculty and graduate students in several disciplines to develop knowledge and training that will provide legislators, policymakers, voters, and the public with better ways to improve debate, discussions, and governing in our country. Through teaching, creative research projects, and public programs, the Democracy Institute will explore better routes to deciding controversial issues, like healthcare and environmental regulation, and address how government can become more responsive to the people.

 

For more information on the Democracy Institute, go to: http://democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu/.

Anne Norton to speak on Democracy in Islam and the West

Anne Norton, professor of political science and comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak “On the Muslim Question” as part of the Penn State Democracy Institute’s lecture series. The talk will be held Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in 111 Wartik Building, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Oct 23, 2013

Norton will discuss the compatibility between democracy, the West, and Islam, as well as challenge Islamophobia by focusing on the values of Western civilization, similar to the topic of her latest book “On the Muslim Question.” Her other books include Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire; 95 Theses on Politics, Culture, and Method; and Republic of Signs. Based in the College of the Liberal Arts, the Penn State Democracy Institute brings together the top faculty and graduate students in several disciplines to develop knowledge and training that will provide legislators, policymakers, voters, and the public with better ways to improve debate, discussions, and governing in our country. Through teaching, creative research projects, and public programs, the Democracy Institute will explore better routes to deciding controversial issues, like healthcare and environmental regulation, and address how government can become more responsive to the people. For more information on the Democracy Institute, go to http://democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu/

The Democracy Institute Funds Two Graduate Research Projects

Jun 11, 2013

 

The Penn State Democracy Institute is supporting two research projects by graduate students Matt Wilson and Mike Bergmaier, thanks to generous support from the alumni and friends of the College of the Liberal Arts.
Matt Wilson, who is pursuing a PhD in Political Science, studies how nations experience major transitions in their political systems. Funding from the Democracy Institute will allow him to research and analyze decisions of Mexico’s prominent political party, known as the Partido Revolutionario Institutional (PRI), that led to its eventual defeat after holding power from 1929 to 2000. Matt’s theory is that leaders create and change political institutions to stay in office, and their success depends on specific constraints and the type of opposition they face.

In the Communication Arts and Sciences Department, PhD candidate Mike Bergmaier will study a key part of civic education in American democracy. He is investigating new formats for high school and college debates that are more accessible, rather than the current specialized formats highlighted with rapid-fire delivery and dense theoretical arguments.  Specifically, Mike will explore the effectiveness of participants negotiating ground rules prior to each debate, rather than imposing a rigid format or an anything-goes approach. Funding from the Democracy Institute will enable the University to host a pilot debate tournament with student competitors to test this new approach to debate competitions.
The Penn State Democracy Institute is a collaborative partnership of research, teaching, and outreach between The Center for American Political Responsiveness and The Center for Democratic Deliberation. Go to: http://democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu

 

 

CAPR Holds Second Annual CAPR Conference

Feb 26, 2013

CAPR Holds Second Annual CAPR Conference

Back Row: Francisco Pedraza (Texas A&M), David Lowery and Suzanna Linn (PSU) Front Row: Jonathan Nagler (NYU), Meredith Sadin (Princeton and Analyst Institute), Robert Erikson (Columbia) and Ruy Teixeira (Center for American Progress)

"It's the economy, stupid." Or, is it?

During CAPR's second annual conference, distinguished researchers from across the country took a closer look at the conference topic The Economy and Elections: Responsiveness in the Context of Growing Demographic Diversity. The 2012 election was unique in that a sitting President won reelection despite a struggling economy. And this was, in part, due to the changing demographics of the electorate where groups such as racial minorities and unmarried women are becoming increasingly important.

The intimate day-long conference gave Penn State students and faculty, as well as other Pennsylvania university students, the opportunity to interact in a smaller setting with a diverse set of accomplished political scientists that work in academia, campaigns and non-profits.

Scholars shared empirical research regarding the differenct political preferences and behaviors of the groups that make up the new American electorate and how this affected the 2012 election. As well, they addressed the way in which campaigns are using increasingly sophisticated polling and modeling to target these groups. The conference concluded with a rousing round table discussion of election 2016, Nate Silvers' 2012 election predictions, and the ways in which our two-party system can better represent a diverse electorate.

Inaugural Democracy Institute Lecture Now Available Online

Jan 22, 2013

On Tuesday, January 15, Professor Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota delivered the inaugural lecture for the Penn State Democracy Institute. His lecture, "The Paradox of Polling: An Aid to Democratic Responsiveness or a Tool for Manipulation?", explored the shift toward private presidential polling in the second half of the twentieth century and elaborated on the ways in which polling--both public and private--can be utilized in both democracy-enhancing and potentially manipulative ways.

Dr. Jacobs' talk was recorded by local independent television and is available online. View the entire lecture HERE.

Democracy Institute Professor In the News: John Gastil on Avoiding Impulsive Political Decisions on Guns and Fiscal Cliff

Dec 20, 2012

"Polls show that Americans now favor gun control by a 10- to 20-point margin. By a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans also support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. If government is about political responsiveness..."


Read more here.

CAPR Professor in the News: Michael Berkman on Accuweather on The Weather's Impact on This Election

Nov 07, 2012

Take a look at this video on Accuweather's web site, which features CAPR professor Dr. Michael Berkman discussing the weather's effect on the 2012 election.