State College
United States


The McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Pennsylvania State University

May 10, 2019 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby
State College
United States

Note: the following entry is incomplete. Please help us complete it.

Mission and Purpose

Penn State's McCourney Institute for Democracy's stated mission is "to promote scholarship and practical innovations that defend and advance democracy in the United States and abroad." The Institue fosters an informed and civil approach to deliberation, policymaking, and responsiveness through interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and public outreach.[1]

Origins and Development 

Founded in 2012 as the Democracy Institute in 2012, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy was renamed in 2014 in honour of a $3 million dollar donation by Tracy and Ted McCourtney.[2]

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

Activities at McCourtney are conducted through the Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD), which focusses on communication practices that make democratic deliberation possible, and the Center for American Political Responsiveness (CAPR), whose work addresses the the translation of citizen demands into public policy.[3]

Specializations, Methods and Tools

The McCourtney Institute fosters an environment of interdisciplinary scholarship and provides a wide range of teaching, research, and public outreach in the field of democracy and democratic innovation. Research at the Institute is wide ranging, draws from the humanities and social sciences and encompassing various topics related to the health of democracy in the United States around the world.[4] 

Major Projects and Events

Penn State Deliberates

A student-run interview series from the Center for Democratic Deliberation, creating a living portrait of how members of the Penn State community engage in democratic deliberation. CDD interns Ryan Insley and Nicholas Griffin sit down with students, faculty, and alumni to discuss their deliberative experiences and contextualize them in the democratic sphere.[5] 

Democracy Works Podcast

Winner of 2018's People's Choice Podcast Award, the Democracy Works Podcast "aims to rise above the daily news grind and have intellectually-engaging conversations about issues related to democracy."[6] Past guest have included Sarah Koenig, Jonathan Haidt, and David Frum.[7]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!


The McCourtney Institute's scholars and faculty members produce a wide range of a academic publications. The blog section of its website includes posts on Institute initiatives and information on democracy-related news and events.[8]

See Also

Civic Education


[1] "About the McCourtney Institute," 

[2] "Tracy and Ted McCourtney," 

[3] "About the McCourtney Institute," 

[4] "Research," 

[5] "Penn State Deliberates," 

[6] "Podcast," 

[7] "Democracy Works Podcast," 

[8] "Blog," 

External Links

Official Website: 


Lead image: The McCourtney Institute for Democracy/Facebook,