Teaching Race: A Roundtable

Monday, 19 March 2018 - 10:00am11:30am

Class of '55, 2nd Fl, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, 3420 Walnut St

Teaching Race: A Roundtable

Teach-in 2018

David Eng

Richard L. Fisher Professor of English and Asian American Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Sebastián Gil-Riaño

Assistant Professor of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania 

Susan Lindee

Professor of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

Quayshawn Spencer

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania

Roundtable moderated by Jim English, John Welsh Centennial Professor of English; Director, Wolf Humanities Center


The popular media sometimes portray American universities as places where discussion of racial matters is conducted along narrow, politically correct lines of thinking, with humanities professors in particular more concerned to indoctrinate their students than to encourage fresh thinking. The reality is of course quite different. Current research on race is varied and complex, as are the styles and practices of teaching in today's humanities and humanistic social sciences. The faculty on this panel are doing leading-edge research on the cultural, philosophical, historical, and political dimensions of race and racial science, and teaching their research to undergraduates across the spectrum of humanities and science majors. How do they communicate the complexities of their research to a diverse constituency of college students, many of whom may find the very topic of race difficult to discuss? 

The first part of the panel will consist of brief introductory remarks. Each professor will speak for five or six minutes about some aspect of their research and writing on race, and describe how they have attempted to incorporate it into their teaching. The second part of the panel will be a moderated roundtable in which the faculty respond to each other's remarks and field questions from the audience. As a highly fraught and divisive topic in our society, race presents special challenges to educators. This panel will highlight the rigor, creativity, and passion with which Penn's faculty are meeting that challenge.