New Penn State curriculum to be featured nationally on PBS show

April 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new genetics and genealogy curriculum co-developed by Nina Jablonski, Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology and director of the Center for Human Evolution and Diversity in the College of the Liberal Arts, will be featured on PBS' "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." on April 9.

The show features a collaboration between Gates, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist and cultural critic, and Nina Jablonski, Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology and director of the Center for Human Evolution and Diversity in the College of the Liberal Arts. The duo developed the “Finding Your Roots Genetics and Genealogy Curriculum.”

Jablonski said she and Gates, who worked with a group of historians, artists, biologists, geneticists, anthropologists, genealogists and educators, were looking for an educational model that would excite young people to find their roots by studying their own DNA and family history.

“The curriculum is all about getting kids to think about themselves as first-person active participants, as scientists, as discoverers of themselves,” she said. “If we succeed in that, we will have created some scientists and some wonderfully educated citizens.” 

The PBS national premiere of the episode, “Finding Your Roots: All in the Family,” will air at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, on WPSU-TV. In addition to including footage from the Penn State Science-U summer camp, the show also will feature the family story of alumnus and actor Ty Burrell. 

A local event celebrating an award-winning WPSU web series, the national launch of a new genetics and genealogy curriculum developed at Penn State, and the critically acclaimed PBS show will take place at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, at the State Theatre in State College.

The event will include a multi-part screening featuring clips from the fifth season of the PBS show “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” A preview of the show’s season finale also will be screened, which highlights the new curriculum from the College of the Liberal Arts with footage from WPSU’s Mid-Atlantic Emmy award-winning series, “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings.” An award presentation and audience Q&A session will follow the screenings.

WPSU Penn State and the College of the Liberal Arts are co-hosting the evening, which is free and open to the public, and registration is encouraged at the event website.

Jablonski will be presented with a commemorative Mid-Atlantic Emmy award for co-designing the curriculum that laid the foundation for the WPSU series.

Visit the WSPU website to learn more about the event and the Finding Your Roots – The Seedlings website for more information about the curriculum.

  • Photo of Nina Jablonski

    Penn State professor Nina Jablonski co-developed the new "Finding Your Roots Genetics and Genealogy Curriculum."

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • wpsu 2018 regional emmy awards

    WPSU won two 2018 Mid-Atlantic Emmy awards for “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings.” 

    IMAGE: WPSU
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Last Updated April 04, 2019