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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