Teach-In will bring together Penn community in a defense of expertise in public debate

March 19, 2018

In the documentary “American Creed,” a conservative, Condoleezza Rice, and a liberal, David Kennedy, join together to think about what it means to be an American and what progress means for the United States.

Diane Waff, Penn GSE
Dr. Diane Waff
When Diane Waff, Philadelphia Writing Project director and a Penn GSE professor of practice, heard that Penn’s Faculty Senate was creating a Teach-In on the Production, Dissemination, and Use of Knowledge, she felt the film fit perfectly.

“It’s a great jumping off point for a conversation across Penn’s campus to ask how we can live up to the ideals we espouse around citizenship, civic engagement, and hope in the face of language of hate and exclusion,” Waff said.

On March 22, Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP) will host a screening of the documentary as one of the closing events of the Teach-In. The screening will be followed by a discussion led by Professor Vivian Gadsden about civic engagement and civic participation.

As Past Chair of the Faculty Senate, Penn GSE professor Laura Perna helped organize the Teach-In, which runs through this week. The series of workshops, lectures, discussions, and film screenings aims to engage people from across the university and the broader community.

“This Teach-In reflects concerns about recent challenges to the fundamental principles and values of higher education in the United States,” Perna said. “Particularly troubling is the disregard and politicization of facts, data, research, and science. The Knowledge Teach-In is designed to advance discussion about the creation of knowledge, dissemination of knowledge, and use of knowledge. Among other outcomes, we hope that this Teach-In helps to advance understanding of how to differentiate between facts and opinion and how to engage in productive discourse around contentious issues.”  

Also on March 22, Penn GSE’s Harris Sokoloff and Jonathan Zimmerman will focus in on a particular issue with their forum “Left, Right, and Center: Can We Talk About Sexual Harassment?” Modeled on events Sokoloff and Zimmerman have done to bring together liberal and conservative students, attendees will lead the conversation with panelists Joann Mitchell, Penn Senior Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer; David Rudovsky, Senior Fellow at the Law School; and Wendy White, Penn Senior Vice President and General Counsel.

This will not be a debate about whether sexual harassment is a problem in our society, Sokoloff said. Rather, it will be a conversation about how we can better address it.

The full schedule for Teach-In events can be found here.


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