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Abstract

This essay provides an overview of what is currently being done in the discipline of communication studies that can advance deliberative democracy, particularly in terms of student learning, and explores how those connections could be strengthened and extended. The essay is divided into three main sections. First, a brief history of the field of communication studies is provided. Next, four questions relevant to deliberative theory and practice are introduced and the teaching and research of communication scholars that provides significant responses are examined: (1) how do we improve how citizens process information and exercise judgment?, (2) how do we best deal the differences in our increasingly diverse communities?, (3) how can we better understand the processes and outcomes of deliberation?, and (4) what are the key future directions for deliberative theory and practice? Within this section, a number of the sub-fields within communication studies that connect directly or indirectly to deliberative work are introduced. The essay concludes with a review of the limitations to these connections and a “call to action” for increased public engagement.

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