Faculty Senate of the University of Pennsylvania

Knowledge Teach-In -- March 19-22, 2018

A "Teach-In" on the topic of "the production, dissemination, and use of knowledge" will be convened during the week of March 19-22, 2018. All Penn community members wishing to become involved are encouraged to contact the Senate office.

Teach-In Overview

In recent times, we have witnessed many challenges to the fundamental principles and values of higher education in the United States.  Particularly troubling are mischaracterizations of the meaning and importance of academic freedom and the disregard and politicization of facts, data, research, and science. Addressing these issues is critical to maintaining the integrity of knowledge.  As members of the Academic community, we must stand to protect knowledge in all its manifestations bearing in mind that knowledge is not just within the purview of the Academy but affects society at large.  Those involved in creating knowledge must know how to communicate about facts and ideas with a wide and diverse audience and recognize that knowledge may not equally benefit, or may even be inimical to, some communities.  How do we, as members of a university community, protect the right to explore ideas and create new understanding, advance new ways of thinking, and teach students and the community at large to differentiate between facts and opinion?  How do we engage in productive discourse around contentious issues?

To advance answers to these questions, the Faculty Senate is planning to host a university-wide “Teach-In” on the production, dissemination, and use of knowledge during the week of March 19–22, 2018.  We hope to engage a broad swath of the University in these ideas so central to our mission and, additionally, hope to further the process of civic engagement with the Academy by opening the event to the local community and inviting participation from policy makers.  The teach-in will include both university-wide and school-specific components pertaining to the theme of “The Production, Dissemination, and Use of Knowledge.”  Among activities, we envisage a series of “Ted”-style micro-lectures (with representation from each of our twelve schools and themed around knowledge in its manifold aspects as central to the Academy), major keynote addresses, panel discussions, course-content-focused classroom discussions, and other activities along these lines.  Those events that are school-specific will be relevant to the theme but adapted to reflect school-specific issues and mission. We will also hold at least one “all-University” community event, including a potential celebration of “what we do” in the Academy and emphasizing that the creation, dissemination, and free discussion of knowledge are critical to the advancement of all of us and should not be feared, diminished, or limited. 

We have been in contact with other university faculty senate groups across the nation, several of whom are interested in participating in this type of project, adapting it to fit their own institutions’ capacities and goals.  Replicating this effort at multiple institutions will increase the impact on higher education’s extramural stakeholders, including local and state legislators, thought leaders, community organizers, and the general public.  To this end, the University of Pennsylvania can serve as an example of how to create and conduct a teach-in that respects and includes the expertise and diversity that are characteristic of our nation’s colleges and universities.


2017-2018 Committee Members: Senate Committee on Engagement with the Academic Mission

Neill Epperson (PSOM/Psychiatry), Chair
Roger Allen (SAS/NELC, PASEF Chair), consulting member
Gary Althouse (Vet School)
Paulo Arratia (SEAS/MEAM)
Damon Centola (Annenberg)
Cindy Connolly (Nursing)
Emily Falk (Annenberg)
David Fox (Lecturer in English & Theater Arts; Director, Penn Reading Project)
Toorjo Ghose (SP2)
Julianne Goodman (Wharton ’18, Undergraduate Assembly Academic Initiatives Director)
Kathleen Hall Jamieson (Annenberg), consulting member
Ira Harkavy (Associate Vice President and Founding Director of the Netter Center)
Chaz Howard (University Chaplain)
Devesh Kapur (SAS/Political Science)
Heather Kelley (‎Deputy Director, Future of Nursing Scholars Program, PPSA Chair)
Irina Marinov (SAS/Earth and Environmental Science)
Susan Sauvé Meyer (SAS / Philosophy), consulting member
Laura Perna (GSE, Senate Past Chair)
Jennifer Pinto-Martin (Nursing, Senate Chair-Elect)
Brian Salzberg (PSOM/Neuroscience)
Marc Schmidt (SAS/Biology)
David Sliski (PhD Candidate, SAS/Physics & Astronomy, GAPSA Representative)
Rebecca Stuhr (Asst. Director for Liaison Services, Penn Libraries)
Sarah Tang (SAS ’18, Student Committee on Undergraduate Education Representative)
Santosh Venkatesh (SEAS/ESE, Senate Chair)
Rakesh Vohra (SAS/Economics), consulting member
Jonathan Zimmerman (GSE)

Contact The Faculty Senate

Fisher Hall

Office of the Faculty Senate

Box 9 College Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6303

(215) 898-6943

Faculty Senate Tri-Chairs

Faculty Senate Chair

Faculty Senate Chair-Elect

Faculty Senate Past Chair