Penn joins National Constitution Center forum on civility

Penn President Amy Gutmann will deliver the keynote address on the importance of civility in public discourse as part of the National Constitution Center’s (NCC) “Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America” forum, set for Saturday, March 26, to Sunday, March 27.

Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will open the event with welcoming remarks at 9:30 a.m. Gutmann will speak at a luncheon following a public panel discussion featuring political activist and blogger Keli A. Carender; NCC President and CEO David Eisner; former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton and John G. Palfrey, Jr., faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. The group will discuss the future of civility in our democracy.

The panel discussion is open to the public and will also be webcast live on President Gutmann’s address will also be available on webcast.

Following Gutmann’s speech, renowned scholars from several Penn schools will participate in breakout sessions from 1:45 to 3:45 p.m. on how to establish civic dialogue that simultaneously advances the common good and respects the voices of protest that often contribute to social progress. These sessions are not open to the public, but will be webcast live.

Richard R. Beeman, the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History at Penn, will moderate the “History” session that includes Alan Brinkley, a professor of American history at Columbia University, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and Dayna Laur, a teacher at Central High School in York, Pa.

Rogers M. Smith, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Penn, will lead the “Ethics and Political Philosophy” session, featuring Marc Brasof, a teacher at Constitution High School; John Yoo, a professor at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and President Gutmann, among others.
John L. Jackson, Jr., a Penn Integrates Knowledge professor, and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, will take part in the “Media and Communications” session, and Sarah B. Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and a professor of history at Penn, will head the “Religion” session.

At the conclusion of the breakout sessions, participants will meet at 4:30 p.m. for a Public Town Hall Exchange, moderated by PBS "NewsHour" correspondent Hari Sreenivasan. The town hall meeting is open to the public and will include an audience Q&A. Admission if free, but tickets are required. To reserve a seat, call 215-409-6700. The town hall will also be webcast live.

In addtion, on Friday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m., the public can get a sneak peek at Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s PBS film, "Prohibition," which is scheduled to air this fall. The event will include a screening of highlights from the film and an audience Q&A with Burns and Novick. Admission is free, but reservations are required.

For a full conference schedule, visit the National Constitution Center website.