University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Revitalizing our Democracy: Engaging Students in Political and Civic Discourse

View all Penn GSE Virtual Institutes

Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - Thursday, July 15, 2021

Penn GSE Virtual Institutes bring Penn's faculty and resources to teachers, educators and leaders across the globe. In these innovative professional learning modules, participants engage in real-time, online group sessions as well as reflect and learn at their own pace in asynchronous sessions. Institutes typically span three consecutive half days, allowing participants to accelerate their learning while continuing to fulfill their professional obligations.


Participants who successfully complete this Virtual Institute will receive a Penn GSE Certificate of Participation.

About the Program

The nation is polarized and has just experienced a divisive presidential election cycle, which makes cultivating civic and political discourse in classrooms more pressing than ever.

For teachers, supporting this discourse can be deeply challenging and while these conversations often occur in civics or history classes, they also arise in science, english, and other subject areas. Unfortunately, most teacher are not provided with support around how to effectively lead these conversations.

This program, developed with the support of the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, aims to equip teachers with tools, strategies, and practices that empower them to effectively support civic and political discourse in their classrooms, to address current issues as they choose, and to respond to political conflicts that may arise in their classrooms.

Developed for middle and high school educators from all subject areas, and educational leaders who wish to support these teachers, this Institute combines asynchronous work with synchronous sessions. Participants will leave this program with a deeper understanding of civic and political discourse and strategies to cultivate these practices in schools and classrooms.


What You'll Gain
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the importance of civic and political discourse
  • Cultivate strategies and practices that support civic and political discourse in the classroom
  • Develop ability to recognize stress and how it plays a role in engagement with challenging civic and political topics of discourse
  • Create a personal plan for supporting and encouraging civic and political discourse in schools and classrooms

Who Should Enroll
  • Middle and high school educators from all subject areas and educational leaders who wish to support these teachers



Key Topics
  • The importance of political and civic discourse
  • Tools and strategies to lead political classroom discourse around controversial topics
  • Addressing our own stress when challenging topics arise


Dr. Sigal Ben-Porath

Professor of Education

Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division
Penn Graduate School of Education

Penn GSE Faculty Christopher Pupik Dean

Dr. Chris Pupik Dean

Senior Fellow

Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division
Co-Director, Independent School Teaching Residency Program

Penn Graduate School of Education

Matthew Kay
High School Educator

Author of Not Light but Fire: How to have Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom
Columnist for Educational Leadership Magazine

Indu Chugani Singh

Educational Consultant and Researcher

Dean of Teaching and Learning, Milton Academy



Javascript Must Be Enabled In Your Browser To Register

Registration Close Date: July 9th, 2021


Penn GSE partners with schools, universities, and communities to expand educational access – especially for those underserved by society. Through rigorous research and innovative programs, we develop new knowledge, and transformational teachers and leaders in pursuit of educational opportunity. To that end, this program has a set of scholarships reserved for educators in the School District of Philadelphia.

To access our scholarship application, please click this link.

Individuals will be notified of their scholarship decision within 3 weeks of applying.


3 days



Daily synchronous sessions: 1:00–4:00pm ET
Asynchronous pre-session work per day: 3 hours


Standard rate: $600
Early bird rate: $450*
Group rate: $450 per person**

*Early bird rate available until 06/25/2021
**Group rate available for 4+ from the same organization. Contact for more information.


Penn GSE Certificate of Participation

Pennsylvania Act 48 credits



Contact Us

Please contact with any questions about this program.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

If you have to cancel your registration prior to the program's start date, you will receive a fee credit, valid for one year, for a future Penn GSE Virtual Institute. If Penn GSE must cancel your registration, we will refund your payment in full, or you may request a fee credit as above.