Penn is reviving a 50-year-old event format to rekindle public discourse - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 19, 2018 7:01 am

Penn is reviving a 50-year-old event format to rekindle public discourse

From March 18–22, the university's Faculty Senate is organizing a Teach-In — 32 open discussions on “the production, dissemination and use of knowledge.”
The University of Pennsylvania.

The University of Pennsylvania.

(University of Pennsylvania by f11photo via Shutterstock)

The University of Pennsylvania’s Faculty Senate is bringing back an event series called the Teach-In as a way to counter the “growing unease about epistemology, the provenance of knowledge and the course of the Academy,” per the body’s president, Santosh Venkatesh.

It’s basically a weeklong string of open classes, discussions and workshops on a variety of subjects happening in 12 venues across Penn’s campus from Sunday to Thursday. The topics range across several areas of knowledge, with students and faculty from Penn’s 12 schools involved in the effort.

The last Teach-In at Penn happened in 1969, when some 1,200 university students participated in workshops and lectures on the role of the university in society, and the use and misuse of scientific knowledge.

“There are inflection points in time and this is beginning to feel like one such,” Venkatesh said in an email. “The proximate causes are different but there are points of similarity with the period of societal unrest of the 1960s. And, just as campuses did then, it seems right to revisit and renew the compact between the Academy and Society: what is the role of the University in the 21st century?”

Technologists browsing the schedule will likely find more than a few activities of interest, like Tuesday’s “The Future of Technology: Artificial Intelligence and Society” panel or “Data Refuge Stories,” happening Wednesday.

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