Scranton’s “University for a Day” Analyzes Today’s Unique Political Climate

Aug 23, 2017

On Saturday, Sept. 16, The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum will engage area residents in its annual University for a Day. Two Scranton faculty members and two prominent scholars will present their perspectives on the U.S. Constitution’s role in current politics, as well as the future of our criminal justice system.

Offered every fall, University for a Day features four lectures, with ample time for discussion, as well as mingling over morning coffee, lunch and a closing reception. The event will run from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Brennan Hall on campus.

The program begins at 9:30 a.m. with “Andrew Jackson, the Constitution and the Presidency.” Since January 2017, when President Trump placed a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, his supporters lavished praise on our seventh president while Trump detractors defamed him. Adam Pratt, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at the University, asks, “How accurate are either of these portrayals?” Dr. Pratt will examine how Jackson approached the presidency and the Constitution and consider what it means for a 21st century president to appropriate his legacy.

Next, at 11 a.m., Akhil Amar, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, will present “The Constitution in the Headlines.” He said, “It is not always that our precious document makes the news, but in these tumultuous times, constitutional matters are making news almost every day.” Dr. Amar will address the most pressing constitutional issues making the news at the time of the lecture.

After lunch, at 1:45 p.m., University for a Day continues with “The President vs. The First Amendment.” Kevin Klose, president emeritus of National Public Radio and former dean of the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, will give the lecture.

“Today’s media face an enormous challenge to present verifiable, fact-based news, which is essential to a society of, by and for the people,” said Klose. “Quality journalism, which protects liberties for the future of our country, holds up a mirror to who we are as a people. We live in an era when social media empower individuals to reach a global audience immediately. To access the many independent sources of integrity and find agreement based on facts, not emotion, citizens need to be energized and reflective.” Offering Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon as examples, Klose asserts that our republic is resilient to high-level threats to the First Amendment.

The final presentation, “The Highs & Lows of Crime and Justice in the U.S.: Reforming the Practice of Criminal Justice,” will be delivered at 3:15 p.m. by Michael Jenkins, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at The University. “Many American cities are experiencing all-time-low crime rates. High imprisonment rates, ‘get-tough’ policies and increasing police patrols are a few reasons scholars posit to explain the reduction,” said Dr. Jenkins, who will provide an overview of recent reforms and offer an analysis of how today’s unique political context will affect future criminal justice practice.

Seating is limited and reservations are required to attend the Schemel Forum’s University for a Day program, which is sponsored by the Scranton Area Foundation. The participation fee is $25 for non-Schemel Forum members and includes morning coffee, lunch and a reception.

To register, contact Alicen Morrison, Schemel Forum assistant, at 570-941-6206 or by email at or more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers, Schemel Forum director, at 570-941-4089 or

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