Center for Democratic Deliberation recognizes undergraduate, graduate students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Center for Democratic Deliberation, a center of excellence in the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, recently honored the contributions of Penn State students in studying and advocating for democratic deliberation both on and off campus.

The Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric and the Nancy and Joseph Birkle Student Engagement Award were presented at the center’s annual awards ceremony April 16.

The Burke Prize in Rhetoric recognizes written work by a graduate student in one of Penn State’s liberal arts disciplines on the subject of rhetoric in its many forms — as historical, critical or theoretical discourse. This year’s winner is Michael Gabriel Young, a doctoral candidate in English.

Young’s winning paper is titled, "'I Know Who You Are': Cultic Rhetorical Appeals and The Rhetoric of Recognition." His research lies at the intersection of rhetoric, gender and religious studies. He studies controversial religious movements whose histories and rhetorics raise questions about the relationship between rhetoric and violence, about religious freedom, and about human rights.

The Birkle Student Engagement Award recognizes graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Liberal Arts who have made significant efforts to enhance the state of civic engagement and public discourse concerning important issues. This year’s winners are Jen K.L. Buchan and Timothy Intelisano.

Buchan is a doctoral candidate in communication arts and sciences and a graduate assistant in the College of the Liberal Arts Fellowships Office. The Birkle Award honors her efforts to organize a series of events and communications to demystify undergraduate research practices and opportunities for traditionally under-represented communities.

Intelisano, a senior studying political science, is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science honors society. He received the Birkle award for his work at the American Law Institute, where he helped prepare materials to justify reforming jury instructions in cases of physical or sexual assault to give victims of assault fairer due process.

For more information about the Center for Democratic Deliberation, visit

Last Updated April 24, 2019