Cohen to address challenge of students sustaining democracy

Jan. 18, 2010

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State administrator Jeremy Cohen says students need more tools to sustain a democratic republic, and he'll address that challenge during a lecture at 4 p.m. Friday in 112 Walker.

Cohen, Associate Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at Penn State, has written widely about the relationship of education, information and democracy. His lecture, titled "The Challenge to Sustain Democracy," is a part of the department of geography's weekly Coffee Hour lecture series.

Cohen recalls Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote recently, "The people and their representatives must have the capacity to exercise their democratic responsibilities. They should possess the tools, such as information and education, necessary to participate and to govern effectively."

Cohen says faculty members are a part of that formula and have a First Amendment mandate to provide students with the necessary tools to sustain an enlightened democracy. Cohen also applies Clark Kerr's half-a-century-old warning that a research university must have an animated principle to challenge the status quo when he says that general education, service learning, and view-book portraits of idyllic student-centered universities might not be sufficient to sustain a democracy.

The talk will be streamed online here by the department of geography.

Other speakers on this semester's Coffee Hour schedule include Michael Mann, a climate change scientist from Penn State; William Easterling, the Dean of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; and Roger Downs, a former head of the Penn State Department of Geography. Click here for the Spring 2010 Coffee Hour schedule.

Penn State geography's Coffee Hour has been a tradition for 41 years, featuring a scholarly talk each week from a wide variety of disciplines in geography and science. For more information, contact