Civil Discourse Panel Discussion: Partisanship and Political Polarization

November 21, 2019, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Light refreshments from 6:00 - 6:30 p.m.
Location: Blauvelt Theatre

Today, more than ever, we see our communities deeply divided by opposing political viewpoints. For our next Civil Discourse Panel Discussion, three experts on partisanship and political polarization will share their insights and opinions, in a conversation moderated by Friends Select students. The panelists include Samantha Harris, the vice president of Philadelphia’s Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and a specialist on political polarization and free speech on college campuses, Daniel Hopkins, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Daniel Yudkin, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania who has collaborated with the non-profit organization More In Common to explore the realities and perceptions of political polarization. They will engage in respectful discourse, exploring differing opinions and solutions about topics related to polarization, such as social media, news, free speech, the two-party system, and more. 

This event is free, but RSVP required.


About the Panelists

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris is the vice president of Philadelphia’s Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). For more than 13 years, Samantha has advised students, faculty, administrators, and attorneys on issues of free speech and due process on campus. She lectures regularly about students’ rights at campuses and conferences around the country, including recently at the Judicial Conferences of the Third and Fourth Circuits. Samantha has been published in Inside Higher Ed, New York Daily News, Reason, The Washington Post, Vox, and other publications, and has represented FIRE on CNN, ESPN, Fox News, NPR, and more. Samantha received her undergraduate degree in politics from Princeton University in 1999, and went on to earn her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2002. Following a clerkship with the late Judge Jay C. Waldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, she was a litigation associate at Pepper Hamilton LLP before joining FIRE in 2005.

Daniel Hopkins

Daniel Hopkins is a political scientist whose research centers on American politics, with a special emphasis on racial and ethnic politics, state/local politics, political behavior, and research methods. He is a professor in the political science department at the University of Pennsylvania, with a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication. He also assists with the coordination of the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative. He has published numerous reports discussing political polarization and its intersections with race, immigration, and the current administration. In 2018, he published a book titled The Increasingly United States: How and Why American Political Behavior Nationalized, which has been covered in news outlets such as the New York Times, New Yorker, Vox, Atlantic, and National Review.

Daniel Yudkin

Daniel Yudkin is a postdoctoral fellow at the Social and Behavioral Science Initiative (SBSI) at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, Daniel was a postdoctoral researcher for two years in the Crockett Lab at Yale University. He received his Ph.D in social psychology at New York University and worked as a research associate at Harvard University. His interests center on how people assess and influence their surroundings, including how they decide between right and wrong, compare themselves to others, evaluate people’s behavior, and explore new spaces. Recently, Daniel has been collaborating with the nonprofit organization More in Common to use insights from social science to help understand and bridge political divides. His research report, Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape, has been featured in the New York Times, New Yorker, Atlantic, Washington Post, Financial Times, NPR, and CNN


About the Series

The Civil Discourse Panel Series is a key component of a larger civics initiative for which Friends Select won $25,000 from the National Constitution Center in their first Civics Literacy Contest. At its core, the series aims to directly engage students with the historical heart and soul of American civics through the vigor and power of reasoned debates. The nation's founding documents were all conceived through discussion and disagreement that emphasized arriving at an elevated understanding of the complexity of our world through civil discourse. The discussions will focus on modern constitutional and political topics, and bring together experts with different perspectives for robust, civil discussions. Most importantly, the series is truly student-centered. A committee of middle and upper school students will be creating the questions for the panelists and will moderate the discussion.