Select Page

On the heels of an election that revealed deep divisions in our society, one thing that most can agree on is the urgent need for respectful, open discussion on the issues that divide us. In a special series of programs this winter and spring, Penn Arts and Sciences will work to promote the necessary conversations. This site highlights events and other opportunities to engage as a community to consider issues in our democratic society, along with contributions from our faculty and videos and other content to help spread the dialogue across campus and beyond.



Inglorious Comparisons: Roundtable Discussion

Presented by Penn’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. In the pages of newspapers of record in the United States and Europe, historical comparisons to current political events are flying thick and fast. The European history of the early twentieth century – in particular the rise of European fascism – has become an omnipresent simile. Featuring professors Frank Trommler, Jonathan Steinberg, Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth College), and Susan Buck-Morss (CUNY). 

Immigration and Global Inequality

A panel discussion with Michael Jones-Correa (Political Science), Emilio Parrado (Sociology), and Tukufu Zuberi (Sociology and Africana Studies). Moderated by Dean Steven J. Fluharty, School of Arts and Sciences. 

Trump, Philosophy, and American Politics: Philosophical Implications of the 45th Presidency (Full Event Video)

Penn conference brought together scholars to discuss issues raised by the election, the transition of power, and the new presidential administration.

Protests, Confusion For Executive Order On Refugees

Ian Lustick, the Bess W. Heyman Professor, discusses President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees on NPR’s On Point podcast.

Fels Institute of Government Launches Inclusive Public Leadership Series

The Fels Institute of Government is pleased to announce the launch of a new Inclusive Public Leadership series. On Wednesday, January 25th, the event series kicked off with a workshop focused on how to understand and influence the legislative process.

Trump’s Election Doesn’t Mean Americans Are More Opposed To Immigration

Daniel Hopkins, associate professor of political science, authors an op-ed on public opinion on immigration.

OMNIA Q&A: Making a Mockery

Ralph Rosen, Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities, on satire, from ancient Greece to “Saturday Night Live.”

It's Time to Get Russia's Strategy Straight

Kevin M. F. Platt of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures blogs about Russia, election hacking, and conspiracy theory for The Huffington Post.


 Penn Program in Environmental Humanities Launches Project to Protect Vulnerable Climate Change Research

Making Multicultural Democracy Work in the Trump Years

A panel discussion with a Q&A session.

Faculty Opinion: Stephen Bannon and the Old/New Anti-Semitism

Amy Kaplan, Edward G. Kane Professor of English, authors an op-ed.

Daniel Hopkins on the Rise of Anti-Immigration Politics

Political scientist Daniel Hopkins talks about how immigration played out in the election in this podcast.

Knowledge by the Slice: Election 2016: What Just Happened?

A panel of political scientists discuss election night.

Faculty Q&A: Confronting Islamophobia

A conversation with Jamal J. Elias, Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and scholar of Islamic thought, culture, and history.

The True Cost of Vote Buying and Selling

Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history and Africana studies, discusses her book, Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and the Corruption of Democracy.

Knowledge by the Slice: New Realities of Latin American Migration to the United States: Implications for Policy Discussions

Faculty Opinion: No, Trump Voters Were Not Irrational

Robert Kurzban, professor of psychology, addresses voter rationality.

Quechua Penn

A thriving Native-American language program makes Penn a Quechua hub.


From Exile To Fugtivity

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 5:00 p.m. 
Presented by the Hebert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

Latino “immigrants.” Jewish “diaspora” or “exile.” Muslim “refugees.” African American “fugitivity.” All of these refer to migration, statelessness, and minority status, but each says something different about the experience and its meaning in the wider world.

Can these experiences be brought into conversation with one another? This panel will look at how such narratives continue to evolve within each culture, and how today’s political climate and policy changes are affecting perceptions of each one.

Panelists: Vincent Lloyd, Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University; Heather Sharkey, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Penn; Assaf Tamari, History and Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Penn; Paulina Ochoa-Espejo, Political Science, Haverford College

Chair and Moderator: Michael Hanchard, Africana Studies, Penn

International House Philadelphia – Africa/Asia Room
3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Learning from Mandela

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 5:00 p.m. 
Center for Africana Studies
3401 Walnut Street

A talk by Rita Barnard
Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Director of Comparative Literature Program

Nelson Mandela is one of the most revered figures of our time.  A “life-loving man” by his own description, he committed himself to a compelling political struggle, faced the death penalty, and endured a prison sentence that entailed the sacrifice of a third of his life to his cause. During these long years, he became the world’s best-known prisoner, a symbol of his own people’s demand for liberation, and a galvanizing icon for millions of all around the world who yearned for a politics of moral conviction. Mandela was never uncontroversial: some have labelled him a sell-out, others a terrorist. But the qualities of leadership he displayed are inspiring to remember in our dark times: dignity, courage, consistency, flexibility, and magnanimity. These qualities are the subject of this lecture.

DCC Annual Conference: Citizenship on the Edge: Sex/Gender/Race

Friday, May 5, 2017
Location TBA
9:00 a.m–5:00 p.m.

Although the privileges and protections provided by the state are never entirely secure, there are those whose gender, sexual, and racial positioning give them an especially precarious hold on both the legal and symbolic rights of citizenship.  In its 2017 Annual Conference, “Citizenship on the Edge: Sex/Gender/Race,” Penn DCC examines the struggles of vulnerable groups to gain or maintain their status as full citizens, recognizing at the same time that the edge they inhabit can be a cutting edge.  Participating Scholars include Erez Aloni (Whittier Law School), Mishuana Goeman (UCLA), Samantha Majic (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), Paul Mepschen (Universiteit Van Amsterdam), Charles Mills (Northwestern University), Michael Rembis (University at Buffalo), Tracy Robinson (University of the West Indies at Mona), and Kimberly Theidon (Tufts University).

Contact us at to notify us about additional programs that are open to the campus community or to the general public.

Proposals from Penn Arts and Sciences faculty, students, or staff members for additional events are welcome and can be submitted to

The Office of the Dean invites additional proposals to support pedagogical innovation and other programs directed at facilitating conversation in the classroom. Please submit suggestions to

Skip to toolbar