Webcast of Four Sessions November 8-9

The November 8-9 meeting of the Penn National Commission on Society, Culture and Community is set up to allow for public participation in four of its sessions on-line at www.upenn.edu/pnc.

Celebrating the Conversation: Public Discourse in Action is the sixth gathering of the PNC, created three years ago when President Judith Rodin challenged 48 scholars, political leaders and shapers of public opinion "to address the polarization, oversimplification, and isolation from important cultural and intellectual traditions that are increasingly characteristic of contemporary social and political discourse." Proceedings of the first five can be found at the Commission's website www.upenn.edu/pnc.

The sessions next Monday and Tuesday focus on ways in which the conduct of public discourse in America can be improved. "Of notable timeliness" said the Commission's Executive Director Stephen Steinberg, " is Tuesday's discussion on political discourse, featuring Karl Rove, manager of the presidential campaign for Governor George W. Bush; Paul Begala, former political advisor to President Clinton; and Tom Luce, a Dallas lawyer who is a former Texas gubernatorial candidate and a veteran of Ross Perot's 1992 presidential campaign."

Through the four webcasts, cyber-participants will be able to submit comments and questions on-line through the Commission's website, www.upenn.edu/pnc. The webcasts will be permanently available for viewing on-line at the conclusion of each session.

Since its inception in December 1996, the Penn National Commission on Society, Culture and Community has sought to understand the problems of contemporary public discussion and behavior and to foster more engaged and thoughtful conversations about contemporary social issues.

The schedule, themes and speakers are as follows:

Monday, November 8, 10-11:45 a.m.

Modeling Public Discourse in Popular Culture

  • Welcome Remarks by President Judith Rodin
  • Speaker: Neal Gabler, author of Life: The Movie
  • Moderator: Rochelle Gurstein, member of PNC; assistant professor of cultural and intellectual history at the Bard Graduate Center.

Mr. Gabler addresses how film stimulates and serves as a model for public discourse.

Monday, November 8, 2-3:30 p.m.

Cybercommunities: A New Discourse for a New Century

  • Chair and Presenter: Lawrence Lessig, member of PNC; Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Harvard Law School
  • Participants: Ken Deutsch, vice president, Internet Strategic Communications for Issue Dynamics Inc.
  • Julian Dibbell, author and columnist and
  • Marc Ewing, co-founder & chief technical officer, Red Hat Software

Panel discusses the possibilities and limitations of community and public discourse in cyberspace.

Tuesday, November 8, 9-10:30 a.m.

Making It Happen I: Improving Political Discourse in the 21st Century

  • Participants: Paul Begala, political consultant;
  • Tom Luce, member of PNC; attorney, founder of Just for the Kids
  • Karl Rove, member of PNC; presidential campaign manager for Texas Gov. George W. Bush

Tuesday, November 8, 10:45 a.m.-12:15 a.m.

Making It Happen II: Exemplary Discourse Programs

  • Presenter: David Ryfe, post-doc fellow at University of California at San Diego
  • Moderator: Jay Rosen, member of PNC; associate professor of journalism at NYU
  • Participants: Richard C. Harwood, founder and president of Harwood Institute for Public Innovation
  • Carolyn Lukensmeyer, founder and director of America Speaks
  • Mary Jacksteit, former director of the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice
  • Martha McCoy, executive vice president, Topsfield Foundation and executive director, Study Circles Resource Center
  • Bob McKenzie, an associate with the Kettering Foundation

Representatives of organizations identified by the Commission as exemplary discuss their innovative and productive forms of social and political discourse.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 10, November 2, 1999