Author Biography

Timothy J. Shaffer is an associate editor for the Journal of Public Deliberation and an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Kansas State University, assistant director of the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy, and Principal Research Specialist at the National Institute for Civil Discourse. His research centers on the advancement of democratic practices through deliberative politics and civic engagement in higher education and other institutional and community settings. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Laura Black is editor for the Journal of Public Deliberation and an associate professor in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. Her research focuses on group communication in deliberation and dialogue, including conflict management, facilitation practices, and the relationship of deliberative groups to their community contexts. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington.


This article introduces the special issue on Deliberative Democracy in an Era of Authoritarianism. The essay highlights the relationship between authoritarianism and democracy, and discusses concerns about the current rise in authoritarianism in political systems. It poses questions about how deliberative scholars and practitioners should respond to authoritarian political contexts and how deliberation should relate to more activist forms of civic engagement. Finally, it previews the articles in the special issue and urges future work in the field to take up ideas, questions, and challenges posed by these essays.