Penn National Commission: Celebrating the Conversation

In a series of dinnertime discussions starting Monday, February 8, President Judith Rodin will open the campus phase of the National Commission on Society, Culture and Community's work.

The PNC, convened by Dr. Rodin in 1996, has brought together 46 scholars, political leaders, and shapers of public opinion whose goal is to address in their periodic national meetings "problems of intolerance, fragmentation of community, and leadership failure in American society" and to promote the "reasoned and reasonable" discourse essential to a democracy.

The February 8 gathering--a dinner and discussion on Celebrating the Conversation: Public Discourse and Democracy--is the first of five thematic conversations that will bring the work of the Commission to the Penn community.

All five discussions will be held at the White Dog Cafe on Sansom Street. Monday's initial session begins at 6 p.m. with a dinner and discussion that has a set price of $30 including tax and gratuity ($25 for full-time students with advance notification; call [215] 386-9224 for reservations).

In succeeding sessions, the meetings will be on Tuesdays, at 8 p.m., and à la carte dinner will be optional.

The schedule in full:

February 8, 6 p.m.: Celebrating the Conversation: Public Discourse and Democracy with President Judith Rodin

March 9, 8 p.m.: On Leadership with Michael Useem, Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership and Change at Wharton; includes videotaped Commission presentation by former N.J. Senator Bill Bradley on Government and Public Behavior

April 13, 8 p.m.: Diversity, Immigration and the American Population in the 21st Century with Drew Gilpin Faust, Annenberg Professor of History and Director of Women's Studies; includes videotaped Commission presentation by PBS Commentator Richard Rodriguez on Immigration and the Fracturing of Community.

April 27, 8 p.m.: Community and Cyberspace with Michael B. Strong, Assistant Director of the PNC; participants will be encouraged to think about how computer-mediated modes of communication (Internet, e-mail) affect ideas of community and democracy; issues include impact on political movements, class barriers, privacy, freedom of speech, and copyrights.

May 4, 8 p.m.: Public Talk: How Can We Do Better? with Stephen P. Steinberg, PNC Executive Director and Assistant to the President, on the Commission's research findings, ideas for improving public discourse, and future activities; participants' responses and suggestions will be elicited.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 18, January 26, 1999