First-year students invite local community to Deliberation Nation

February 22, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the second year in a row, first-year honors students are encouraging community members to join them in deliberative discussions on topics that range from local to global significance and urgency.

Between Feb. 22 and March 3, Deliberation Nation will present more than 50 opportunities for students and community members to engage in serious conversations that challenge participants to reflect on the values that shape their decision making.

The student facilitators are part of Rhetoric and Civic Life, an honors course offered jointly through the Paterno Fellows Program, Schreyer Honors College, and the Center for Democratic Deliberation in the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. The course provides comprehensive training in the oral, written, visual and digital communication skills.

As part of their course requirements, students work in groups to devise and frame a deliberative discussion that addresses issues important in their communities and around the world. From strengthening the relationship between students and State College residents, to the heroin epidemic that plagues communities across the nation, to the Syrian refugee crisis, Deliberation Nation offers space for education and understanding.

“A deliberation is a group conversation that looks at problems and weighs approaches to addressing those problems. The focus is not to debate and decide on an answer, but to understand what it is that motivates us to think the way that we do and to understand why others feel differently,” said Lori Bedell, co-director of Rhetoric and Civic Life. “Every voice matters. We hope the community will engage with us in productive conversation.”

Deliberations will take place around State College and are open to the public. For more information and to view a complete schedule, please visit

Based in Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy promotes rigorous scholarship and practical innovations to advance the democratic process in the United States and abroad. The institute is comprised of two centers of excellence: the Center for Democratic Deliberation and the Center for American Political Responsiveness. To learn more, go to

  • Deliberation Nation 2016

    Deliberation Nation 2016 will run through March 3.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Lori Bedell

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Last Updated February 23, 2016