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Fall 2020 Virtual Events

We are excited to host several virtual events this fall. Please click on the link associated with each event to register for the Zoom session. You will receive a confirmation email with a Zoom link upon registration. 

Virtual Book Club: Beyond Civility: The Competing Obligations of Citizenship

Discussion with authors William Keith and Robert Danisch

Monday, October 5, 4:00 p.m. ET


From the pundits to the polls, nearly everyone seems to agree that U.S. politics have rarely been more fractious, and calls for a return to “civil discourse” abound. Yet it is also true that the requirements of polite discourse effectively silence those who are not in power, gaming the system against the disenfranchised. What, then, should a democracy do?

This book makes a case for understanding civility in a different light. Examining the history of the concept and its basis in communication and political theory, William Keith and Robert Danisch present a clear, robust analysis of civil discourse. Distinguishing it from politeness, they claim that civil argument must be redirected from the goal of political comity to that of building and maintaining relationships of minimal respect in the public sphere. 

This event will be hosted in partnership with the Penn State University Libraries and the Penn State University Press.

Center for Democratic Deliberation Lecture: Hui Wu

A Woman Teacher of Rhetoric in Ancient China: Ban Zhao and Her Impact on Modern Gender Perceptions

Wednesday, October 14, 12:00 p.m. ET


Dr. Hui Wu's speech is about how Ban Zhao, author of Lessons for Women, taught rhetoric to young women in ancient China through redefining the concept of yin-yang and practicing yin-yang rhetoric in her instruction. Examining Ban’s teaching of women's empowerment in their traditional motherly and wifely roles, the speaker will also relate Ban's impact on modern Chinese literary women’s perception of gender relations and social responsibilities as writers.

The People, Power, and Money Behind the U.S. Census

A conversation with NPR's Hansi Lo Wang

Monday, October 19, 4:00 p.m. ET


It may not get as much attention as elections, but the once-a-decade head count of every person living in the U.S. comes with major consequences in who gets power and money over the next 10 years.

NPR national correspondent Hansi Lo Wang will share insights from his three years of covering the 2020 census. He has reported on all of the controversies surrounding the count, including the Trump administration’s failed efforts to add the now-blocked citizenship question and last-minute changes to a schedule already delayed by the pandemic that put the count’s accuracy in serious jeopardy.

This event is co-sponsored by the Penn State University Libraries.

Center for Democratic Deliberation Lecture: Jeremy Engels

Wednesday, October 28, 12:00 p.m. ET


Jeremy Engels is the Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows Program and Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State. He is a rhetorical scholar who studies the rhetorical foundations of democratic culture, in all their beauty, in all their ugliness, and ultimately in all their perplexity. His research asks the question, what practices of the care of the self are necessary for us to be confident, competent, capable citizens? He is the author of The Art of Gratitude (SUNY 2018), The Politics of Resentment: A Genealogy (2015), and Enemyship: Democracy and Counter-Revolution in the Early Republic (2010).

Center for Democratic Deliberation Lecture: Ana Cooke

Wednesday, November 11 12:00 p.m. ET


Cooke is an assistant professor of English at Penn State. Her work focuses on how networked media shapes public and professional discourses, particularly in collaborative online environments. She studies how the different spheres of discourse that intersect online shape public discourse around controversial issues such as global warming. Her current book project, Collaborating in Public, traces how the global-warming related articles in Wikipedia have changed over time, particularly in the wake of the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. 

The Future of the Republican Party

Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent

Thursday, November 19, 4:00 p.m. ET


Rep. Dent served in the US House for 13 years representing Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. A lifelong Republican, he was the chair of the House Ethics Committee and a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations committees.

These days, he is a CNN political analyst and senior policy adviser at DLA Piper. In 2019, he received the Penn State Distinguished Alumni Award, which is the university’s highest honor presented to alumni. 

We will talk with him after the November election about what the results tell us about the future of the Republican Party.