History is not dead.
That is the message Temple University’s History department hopes to send as its series of weekly teach-ins enters its second year.
The teach-ins, which grew out of History professor Ralph Young’s fall 2002 “Dissent in America” class, will continue to provide participants with historical context for modern political and social issues.
“The goal of these teach-ins has always been to examine the historical background to contemporary problems to see if an informed study of history will enlighten us about what’s going on,” Young said.
Since last fall, 25 teach-ins have taken place, including the spring semester’s day-long session that focused on the historical development of the war in Iraq. Professors and students have led a majority of the teach-ins, which have dealt with issues such as civil liberties, political policy, dissent and racism.
The popular forum starts meetings again tomorrow.
Friday’s teach-in will be, in part, a brainstorming session to generate ideas for future gatherings.
Led by Young and senior Justin Chapman, the meeting will focus on discussion of the evolution of the teach-ins over the past year and the purpose of these events.
Chapman also plans to lead a discussion about how current events can be traced to their historical origins.
Along with expanding on the subjects of past teach-ins, Young plans to have speakers discuss a wider range of topics throughout the semester, including the death penalty, the economy and gender issues.
Women’s Studies professor Rebecca Alpert will lead a teach-in focused on the Kobe Bryant case on Oct. 10, Young said.
Young said he plans to draw upon the knowledge of other professors, specifically those who specialize in Third World history, to talk about issues in countries such as North Korea and how those issues affect their relations with the United States.
Another possible teach-in will be led by photojournalist Leif Skoogfors.
Skoogfors, who has worked with Greenpeace, will discuss the media and the photojournalist’s role in presenting news.
He has covered events in Kosovo, Bosnia and Nicaragua for both The New York Times and Time magazine.
This semester, Young is again teaching “Dissent in America,” and he said that his new crop of students plan to be involved with this semester’s teach-ins, along with students who have participated in the past.
David White, a triple major in Economics, International Business and Political Economics, led a teach-in last semester concerning the Kurdish people and their situation regarding the war in Iraq.
White said he is interested in leading another teach-in this semester and finds them important for preparing students for life after college.
“All viewpoints are welcome at the teach-ins,” White said. “This teaches students involved not only to analyze a situation and come to a logical conclusion, but also to defend that opinion against other viewpoints. I cannot imagine a job that would not prize someone who can analyze, evaluate, conclude and defend any subject presented to them.”
Although Young works to promote the teach-ins, he said that students such as White are the main drive behind their success.
“These teach-ins are like a grassroots revival of sorts,” Young said. “The students wanted them to happen, and they’ve been almost entirely student-generated.”
A German radio station recently interviewed Young while he was on vacation on the teach-ins and their evolution.
“They were impressed about how Temple students were engaged in political discussion through these teach-ins,” Young said.
The teach-ins will be held every Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the History lounge on the ninth floor of Gladfelter Hall.
Those interested in more information can contact Professor Young at email@example.com.
Jessica White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.