Timothy J. Shaffer, PhD

Timothy J. Shaffer is the inaugural Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Chair of Civil Discourse and director of the SNF Ithaca Initiative in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration with joint appointments in the Department of Communication and School of Education at the University of Delaware. 

Shaffer is also director of Civic Engagement and Deliberative Democracy with the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona. 

Connected to these efforts, Shaffer also serves as the associate editor of the Journal of Deliberative Democracy, as a country expert on deliberative democracy with the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem Institute) research project, and as a co-director guiding the work of the Deliberative Pedagogy Lab, an international project focused on applied scholarship about the ways that deliberation can transform higher education educational approaches and environments. 

As an interdisciplinary scholar and practitioner of civil discourse, deliberative democracy, public engagement, civic education, and small group communication, Shaffer focuses on the role of civic professionals in institutional settings such as local government, higher education, and non-governmental organizations in relationship with diverse communities. Through his scholarship, he contributes to discussions within fields such as communication studies, higher education, and civic studies where themes of citizenship, professionalism, community, and civic life are explored. As Karol Sołtan and Peter Levine put it when writing about civic studies:

"Civic studies asks Shaffer’s question: “What should we do?” It is thus inevitably about ethics (what is right and good?), about facts (what is actually going on?) and about strategies (what would work?). Good strategies may take many forms and use many instruments, but if a strategy addresses the question “What should we do?”, then it must guide our own actions. For many of us, institutions and institution-making are crucial to this enterprise. They embody ideals and values. They can also be seen as crucial resources."

In recognition of being a scholar committed to engaged scholarship, he has received the Early Career Recognition Award from the International Association for Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement.

Currently, Shaffer is working on a number of public-facing research projects. These include a research project with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the National Civic League, and the Kettering Foundation on the role of local government leaders and the ways they engage diverse publics in participatory and inclusive ways; second, the use the use of democratic discussion through organizations in communities demonstrated by his work as a member of the Rapid Response Team which developed "Coming Together For Racial Understanding : Train-the-Trainer Workshop," a training program for community-based educators to utilize dialogue processes to address racial issues in their communities; and third, as a co-editor and leader on a project with the Interactivity Foundation around the policy concerns facing rural communities. You can find more information on that project here

Sharing the impact of his work, Shaffer publishes in diverse journals such as National Civic Review, The Good Society, eJournal of Public Affairs, and the Journal of Deliberative Democracy as well as co-edit and author larger book projects including: