Penn State Deliberates series explores dialogue on campus

November 14, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Walking around campus, you might get the impression that students never talk to each other outside of their phones. A new student-run project aims to shed light on the democratic deliberations that are happening in person — across the political spectrum and away from social media.

Penn State Deliberates is a series of interviews about the role of dialogue on campus. It is produced by Nicholas Griffin and Ryan Insley, political science students and interns in the Center for Democratic Deliberation, a center of excellence within the McCourtney Institute for Democracy.

Griffin and Insley hope that bringing multiple voices into the conversation will help shine a light on how people from different beliefs and backgrounds can come together for constructive dialogue.

“Bridging the rifts dividing us will first require a goodwill effort to overcome all hopelessness and apathy, and to address candidly, thoughtfully and knowledgeably our contentions and differences,” Insley said. “By deliberating with our fellow citizens across a wide array of concerns and interests, I believe we can start to actualize that goodwill effort, and begin to heal our democracy.”

The first three installments of Penn State Deliberates have been published thus far. Volume one covers the fundamentals of democratic deliberation with the Penn State Speech and Debate Society. Volume two features an interview with Madison Stromswold, who is from Montana and interned for the Montana GOP. Volume three looks at the state of democracy in Venezuela with Penn State student and Venezuela native Daniela Rojas Medina.

Giffin and Insley have learned a lot from the conversations they’ve had so far and look forward to telling more stories throughout the rest of the school year.

“My interest in this project stems from this intense curiosity that I have about our divided political country. I am also interested in the democratic deliberation process in other countries,” Griffin said. “The people who are most interested and connected to the political landscape are the ones who I wish to converse with the most about the issues regarding democratic deliberation.”

For more information on Penn State Deliberates, visit

Last Updated November 14, 2018