Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Events & Workshops

  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 6:00pm

    National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
    Co-sponsored by the National Constitution Center and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.

    IN AMERICA TODAY, MANY RELIGIOUS BELIEVERS contend that government anti-discrimination policies require them to do things that violate their faiths, while others feel religious claims are being used to violate their rights.  In countries worldwide, concerns about terrorism in the name of religion are fueling strong measures to police, even persecute, many minority communities - Muslims, Christians, secularists, and others among them.  This panel brings together spokespersons for three faiths and for secular worldviews to discuss whether and how freedoms for and from religion are endangered today, and what Americans' responses should be.

    KRISTINA ARRIAGA has worked on the defense of religious freedom domestically and internationally for over 20 years as Advisor to the United States delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, an appointee to the Civil Rights Commission, and as the Executive Director of Becket Law, a public interest law firm. She currently serves as the Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Arriaga is a sought-after speaker on religious freedom. She has also appeared on TV and radio programs including MSNBC, C-Span, FOX, CNN Español, Council on Foreign Relations and National Public Radio. Her op-eds have been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. Arriaga is the recipient of the 2017 Newseum’s Free Speech award. 

    DAN BARKER is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He was elected co-president of the Foundation with Annie Laurie Gaylor in 2004, with whom he is co-host of Freethought Radio, a national weekly talk show. He is a contributing editor of Freethought Today and is involved with the Foundation’s state/church lawsuits. He regularly travels the country and the world giving lectures, performing concerts, and participating in debates with theists, many at college and university campuses. A former minister and evangelist, his books include Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher To Atheist. Recent books include Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning (2015), GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction (2016), and the forthcoming Make Up Your Mind: Do We Really Have Free Will? (2018).

    KHALID LATIF is Executive Director and Chaplain (Imam) for the Islamic Center at New York University (NYU). In 2005, Imam Latif was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at NYU. At NYU, Khalid initiated his vision for a pluralistic American Muslim community, rooted on campus and reaching out to the city. In 2006, Imam Latif was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at Princeton University. In 2007, Imam Latif's position was fully institutionalized at New York University, and so he committed himself to building Muslim community life there. Today's Islamic Center is a leader among American Muslim organizations, uniquely shaped to contribute to the future of Muslim practice in the West.

    DAVID SAPERSTEIN was the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom for the Obama Administration from 2014-2017. Selected by Newsweek magazine in 2009 as the most influential rabbi in the country and described in a Washington Post profile as the "quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill," Rabbi Saperstein represented the Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) for forty years. Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in First Amendment Church-State Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School.


  • Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

    Location TBD

    IN THE FIRST OF AN ONGOING SERIES, the Mitchell Center and the Penn Political Union present journalist MIchael Smerconish to get a debate started over the role of the media in the political polarization of the America. 

  • Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 4:30pm

    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    ANNA SU is an Assistant Professor in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Her primary areas of research include the law and history of international human rights law, U.S. constitutional law (First Amendment), and law and religion. Her research has appeared in the Vanderbilt Law Review, the International Journal of Constitutional Law and the Journal of the History of International Law. Prior to coming to Toronto, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy based in SUNY Buffalo Law School, and a graduate fellowship in ethics with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.She is the author of Exporting Freedom: Religious Liberty and American Power (2016).

  • Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 4:30pm

    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    LEIGH E. SCHMIDT is the Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. He joined the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics in 2011. He is the author of numerous books, including Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment (2000), which won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in Historical Studies and the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association; Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman (2010); and Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality (2005 and updated in 2012). 

  • Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 4:30pm

    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    RANDALL BALMER is the John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth College. A prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, he has published more than a dozen books, including Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter and The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond. His second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fifth edition, was made into an award-winning, three-part documentary for PBS. His op-ed articles have appeared in newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the Des Moines Register, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Anchorage Daily News, and the New York Times.

  • Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 4:30pm

    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    GRACE YUKICH is Associate Professor of Sociology at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She is a sociologist whose research, writing, and teaching focus on immigration, religion, social movements & politics, race & ethnicity, and culture. Her first book, One Family Under God: Immigration Politics and Progressive Religion in America (2013), is an ethnographic study of how immigration is changing the relationship between religion and politics in the United States, especially migration from Latin America. She is currently finishing research for her next book, using experimental methods to measure discrimination against Arab American Muslims in the U.S. job market.

  • Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 4:30pm

    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    CASSIE ADCOCK is Associate Professor in the Department of History and in the religious studies program at Washington University in St. Louis. She specializes in religion in the political culture of modern north India. Her first book, The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom (2013), addresses the politics of religious conversion in India by providing a critical history of tolerance, a secularist ideal central to the Gandhian tradition. Her current book project traces the long history of cow protection in north India from 1881 until 1969. Her work has been supported by a Fulbright Scholar Award, an NEH-AIIS Senior Research Fellowship, and a Kluge Fellowship.

  • Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 4:30pm

    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    HUSSEIN ALI AGRAMA is Associate Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His ongoing research interests are in the anthropology of law, religion, Islam, and the Middle East; in secularism, law and colonial power, and in the genealogies of sovereignty and emergency states. His work has been published in the journals Political Theory, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and American Ethnologist, and in several edited volumes. He is the author of Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty and the Rule of Law in Egypt (2012).

  • Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 4:30pm

    Perry World House
    Free and open to the public

    JONATHAN FOX is Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He specializes in the influence of religion on politics which he examines using both quantitative and qualitative methodology. His research also investigates the impact of religion on domestic conflict, terrorism, international intervention, and international relations. His other research interests include the quantitative analysis of Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" theory, nationalism, and ethnic conflict. His recent books on these topics include Religion in International Relations Theory: Interactions & Possibilities (2013, with Nukhet Sandal) and An Introduction to Religion and Politics: Theory & Practice (2013). Currently he is focusing on the issue of government religion policy as part of the Religion and State (RAS) project.

  • Friday, May 4, 2018 - 9:00am to 5:00pm

    DCC CAPS ITS 2017-18 THEME YEAR ON “STATES OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM" by addressing a series of challenging questions: What is religious freedom? Can it truly be universal? What are the rights of religious minorities when set against a nation's popular majority?  And when religious liberties seemingly conflict with gender and sexuality rights, which should prevail if the conflict cannot be resolved?  Panelists include Lori G. Beaman (University of Ottawa), W. Cole Durham (Brigham Young University), R. Marie Griffith (Washington University in St. Louis), Nadia Marzouki (Harvard Kennedy School), Daniel Philpott (University of Notre Dame), and Winifred Sullivan (Indiana University at Bloomington).