John Gastil

Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences, Pennsylvania State University
Political Science Senior Scholar, McCourtney Institute for Democracy

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About John

Gastil studies how people make decisions in small groups and methods for improving democracy. His work focuses on small deliberative bodies, such as juries, which give citizens the opportunity to consider serious public problems together. He has shared his research with nonprofit organizations, state legislatures, and democratic reformers around the globe, and has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the Kettering Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and public universities.

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

"The Cure for Your #regrexit Democratic Hangover," John Gastil, Zocalo Public Square, June 29, 2016.
"Imagine a Democracy Built on Lotteries, Not Elections," John Gastil (with Terrill Bouricius, David Schecter, and Campbell Wallace), Zocalo Public Square, April 5, 2016.
"These Civic Experiments are Getting Citizens More Involved in Governing Themselves," John Gastil (with Hollie Russon-Gilman), Washington Post, February 19, 2016.
"A More Deliberate Democracy," John Gastil, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 8, 2012.


"Assessment of the 2016 Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review Pilot on Question 4," (with Katherine Knobloch, A. Lee Hannah, Cheryl Majorca, Ernie Paicopolos, and Jennifer Watters), Pennsylvania State University, 2016.

Assesses the effectiveness of the pilot CIR held in Massachusetts on a marijuana legalization ballot question in 2016.

"Deliberation across Cultural Cognitive Divides: Two Tests of Cultural Biasing in Public Forum Design and Deliberation" (with Katherine Knobloch, Dan Kahan, and Don Braman). Public Administration 94, no. 4 (2016): 970-987.

Shows how public deliberation can encompass multiple cultural orientations and encourage participants to look beyond their biases to discover common ground--sometimes, but not always.

"Does the Public Want Mini-Publics? Voter Responses to the Citizens’ Initiative Review" (with Elizabeth Rosenzweig, Katherine Knobloch, and David Brinker). Communication and the Public 1, no. 2 (2016): 174-192.

Shows that voters found the CIR Statements to be a useful alternative source of information, although they wanted to know more about the CIR process. Also, reading the CIR Statement inspired some to vote on ballot measures they might have skipped.

"Beyond Endorsements and Partisan Cues: Giving Voters Viable Alternatives to Unreliable Cognitive Shortcuts" The Good Society 23, no. 2 (2014): 145-159.

Demonstrates how the CIR addresses problems in the initiative system by providing substantive and influential critiques of proposed legislation.