Penn State College of the Liberal Arts
Penn State College of the Liberal Arts
Virtual Events

Virtual Events

Our virtual events bring thought-provoking conversations about democracy to the Penn State community and beyond. All events are free and open to anyone.

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.

Engaged Book Cover

Virtual Book Club: Engaged by Andrew Sommers

Monday, December 7, 4:00 p.m. ET


Written by Penn State alumnus Andrew Sommers, Engaged: A Citizen’s Perspective on the Future of Civic Life provides a unique perspective on the state of our civic life today and why it matters to democracy. It explores key aspects of engagement through personal stories, vignettes from the Shaw neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and inspiring examples of those who are trying to make a difference. The book speaks to all Americans — veterans, entrepreneurs, religious leaders, community organizers, educators, parents, and everyday citizens — who want to make a difference in the country we all love.

Andrew will join us for a virtual book club discussion.  The first half of the event will be a large group Q&A session, followed by optional smaller group discussions in Zoom breakout rooms.

Anne Applebaum: Twilight of Democracy

Wednesday, February 17, 3:00 p.m. ET


From the United States and Britain to continental Europe and beyond, liberal democracy is under siege, while authoritarianism is on the rise. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist Anne Applebaum chronicles this trend in her book Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism and will outline some of the book’s main themes in this presentation.

Informed by her expertise in Europe and her years of international reporting, Applebaum was one of the first American journalists to raise an alarm about antidemocratic trends in the West and explain why elites in democracies around the world are turning toward nationalism and authoritarianism. She contends that political systems with radically simple beliefs are inherently appealing, especially when they benefit the loyal to the exclusion of everyone else.

Applebaum is a Senior Fellow of International Affairs and Agora Fellow in Residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.. She is a staff writer at The Atlantic and contributed to Foreign Affairs, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books.

Danielle Allen: Our Common Purpose, Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century

Thursday, February 25, 4:00 p.m. ET


In an age of globalization, centralized power, economic inequality, deep demographic shifts, political polarization, pandemics and climate change, and radical disruption in the media and information environments, we face these converging trends in a constitutional democracy that feels to many increasingly unresponsive, nonadaptive, and even antiquated.

Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a chair of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, which proceed the report “Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century” for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She will join us for a presentation on the report and how to make the United States stronger, more equitable democracy.