Former U.S. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper will teach a public policy class at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, this fall. She will partner with the Rev. Charles Brock, senior research associate in religious studies, to present the course, which will explore many of the issues being debated in the presidential campaign.
The class – PUBPL 305: Leadership Studies – will dissect some of the most contentious topics in American culture, including immigration, race, gay marriage and climate change.
“These issues are huge,” said Dahlkemper, an Erie Democrat who served in Congress from 2009 to 2011. “But with our 24/7 news cycle, everything is reduced to sound bites. Everything is put in its box. And we’re not having a real conversation.”
She and Brock will take a broader approach, drawing on politics, economics, religion and science. “We’re taking issues and trying to look at them from all the different perspectives,” Brock said. “We want a discussion, not a series of lectures.”
A shortened, four-week version of the course will be offered at the Jefferson Educational Society. Those sessions begin Sept. 10.
Dahlkemper will by then have returned from the Democratic National Convention, where she will be part of the Pennsylvania delegation. She was the first woman elected to represent the state’s 3rd District and has remained active on various national policy issues.
“She brings the perspective of someone who has been in Congress,” Brock said. “She has a practical background, and she’s street-smart.”
Brock, the director of Penn State Behrend’s Institute on the American Dream, taught at Oxford University for 35 years before returning to Erie. He is the pastor at First Universalist Church in Girard.