This Friday, Feb. 17, Lawrentians will have an exciting learning field day to look forward to. A collaborative effort by a large groups of faculty members, LU Teach-in for Democracy day will be a full day of multi-disciplinary discussions and learning about democracy, civic engagement, social justice, politics, and the multitude of perspectives of these topics from different disciplines. A series of short sessions will be held in the Esch-Hurvis Room in Warch Campus Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; while regular classes will be opened up to visitors – students, staff and faculty members alike.
“It is meant to be an inclusive and non-partisan event,” said Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and Associate Professor of Government Jason Brozek. “It is focused on discussing and learning from each other. The goal is to expose […] the entire community to new ideas, new ways of thinking, to explore topics that they haven’t thought about before.”
Alongside Brozek, many other professors have joined force to make this day of learning possible, including Instructor of Gender Studies Helen Boyd Kramer, Associate Professor of Music Sonja Downing and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Lavanya Proctor, who were the main organizers of the event.
Through the LU Teach-in Day, the professors hope to highlight the message that we all can understand politics, social justice and civic engagement through many different lenses. As such, there are many courses of action we can take to get involved.
Talking about what he most looked forward to on the Teach-in Day, Brozek was enthusiastic. “My colleague [Kramer] is doing a Gender Studies class with some readings on global issues that are really interesting,” he commented. “[Associate Professor of History] Monica Rico […] is addressing in her class that day the Chinese Exclusion Act, the earlier wave of anti-immigration sentiments […] For sessions that are happening in [Warch], I’m excited for one on refugees and civic engagement, one on poetry as a form of resistance. There’s one on children’s literature and politics and social justice and another one on what resistance looks like in Buddhist traditions.”
The idea of the Teach-in Day received considerable support from the faculty, according to Brozek, as it is an important and concrete action coming out from a discussion that has been much debated and alive in academia. It is the discussion on the role of academics and the responsibilities of intellectuals in a time of turmoil like this.
“There is a feeling amongst the faculty that we ought to be more public with the connection between what we do in the classroom and the world we live in,” stated Brozek on his motivation behind the Teach-in Day.
The Teach-in Day is only the first step towards generating more discussions and conversations about the meaning of democracy, civic engagement and recent movements, as well as providing a platform for such discussions to take place. Although this Friday event is only limited to the Lawrence community, there are plans already in the works, as there has been expressed interest in further intellectual collaboration with the bigger Appleton community, possibly through partnership with the Appleton Public Library.
Talking about his plans for Friday, Brozek said, “I’m actually planning on just spending the whole day in [Warch Campus Center].”