Constitution Day to be celebrated at University Park on Sept. 17

August 30, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The First and Second amendments to the U.S. Constitution are in the news a lot these days as debates about free speech and gun ownership permeate the news cycle. The Constitution, however, contains much more than those two amendments, and understanding the Constitution is essential to being a good citizen.

The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Intercollege Minor in Civic and Community Engagement (CIVCM) will lead a Constitution Day celebration from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in Heritage Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center on Penn State's University Park campus. The event will feature student and faculty presentations to mark the Constitution’s 232nd birthday. 

Starting at 1 p.m., students from Foundations of Civic and Community Engagement (CAS 222/CIVCM 211) will present posters focusing on different parts of the Constitution and how they relate to contemporary issues. Both sections of that course are taught this semester by CAS Teaching Professor Travis Brisini, assistant director of the CIVCM minor.

In addition, CAS faculty will participate in a panel discussion at 2 p.m. on issues related to the Constitution:

  • Stephen H. Browne, Liberal Arts Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences, will discuss the executive powers clause (Article 2, Section 1) of the Constitution.
  • Abraham I. Khan, Laurence and Lynne Brown-McCourtney Early Career Professor and assistant professor of African American studies and communication arts and sciences, will address the Constitution’s silences.
  • Denise Haunani Solomon, head and Liberal Arts Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences, will discuss the patent and copyright clause as it relates to promoting the arts and sciences (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8).
  • Bradford J. Vivian, professor of communication arts and sciences, will discuss controversies about the First Amendment and free speech on college campuses.

College of the Liberal Arts Dean Clarence Lang will introduce the panel. A question-and-answer session will follow the panelists' remarks. 

While marking Constitution Day in some way is mandatory for any organization receiving federal funding, Rosa Eberly, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and CIVCM director, said that what sets Penn State’s Constitution Day activities apart from many other universities’ is the emphasis on student engagement with the specifics of the document. 

“We want students to interrogate the Constitution’s history, its virtues, and its flaws, and to learn together why knowing what’s in the Constitution — and what isn’t — is important day in and day out,” Eberly said. “The preamble to the Constitution literally constituted, however imperfectly, a people — “We The People” — and making a more perfect union requires that more people know about the Constitution, our system of government, their rights, and their responsibilities in participatory democracy.”

The Constitution Day celebration is free and open to the public. All attendees will receive a free pocket-size copy of the Constitution and refreshments from Webster's Bookstore Cafe will be served.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences and the Center for Democratic Deliberation in the College of the Liberal Arts. 

For more information, contact Travis Brisini at tpb13@psu.edu

Last Updated August 30, 2019