CoursesThe Constitution in the Classroom: Law, History, and Civil Dialogue
PSCI 398-301

The Constitution in the Classroom: Law, History, and Civil Dialogue

This course offers both a substantive introduction to constitutional law and the opportunity to teach the U.S. Constitution and civil dialogue skills inside Philadelphia schools. Substantively, we work to develop a sound understanding of the U.S. Constitution itself—its text, its history, and its caselaw. Taught by experts from the Constitution Center.

Designated as an Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course.

Tuesdays, 10:15 AM – 1:15 PM

We begin with an overview of the Constitution’s text and the leading methods for interpreting it. From there, we explore the Founding era—the Constitutional Convention, the ratification debates, and the creation of the Bill of Rights. Finally, we survey key parts of the Constitution—covering the relevant text, its origins, its underlying principles, its history (including landmark Supreme Court cases), and areas of ongoing debate. Topics include: the separation of powers, federalism, slavery in America, free speech, religious liberty, gun rights, digital privacy, women’s suffrage, and the battle for equality.

Importantly, this course also includes a practicum component led by Dr. Kerry Sautner—the National Constitution Center’s Chief Learning Officer—focused on civil dialogue and the practice of historical thinking. Penn students work with Dr. Sautner and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to teach the Constitution inside Philadelphia schools—covering civil discourse practices and the constitutional content addressed in the substantive course. In these classes, Philadelphia students will examine the Constitution through a mix of civil dialogue, critical thinking, and active listening—with a particular emphasis on the Constitution’s text and history, and how the Constitution affects the students’ lives. Class meets once a week for lecture and discussion. Students also coordinate with Dr. Sautner and the Netter Center to establish a plan for their work inside Philadelphia-area schools. In addition to lecture, students meet once a week with high school students in Philadelphia. Finally, students also complete a final term paper on a constitutional topic of their choice.

We The People Sign from outside of Constitution Center

Other Courses of Interest

PPE 4700

Economics Capstone: Toward Everyday Altruism


  • Jaron Cordero


Fall 2023

Monday/Wednesday, 12 pm-1:29 pm

Humans are often motivated and act to benefit the well-being of others. In this course, we will explore altruism as a process and investigate its affective, cognitive, behavioral, social, and ecological components. We will investigate questions such as, what are the causes, conditions, and impediments of altruism? Can altruism be developed within individuals, and if so how? What would an altruistic society look like, and how might it be achieved?

Learn More
ENGL 0765 - 301



  • Chris Mustazza


Fall 2023

Podcasting has become one of the most popular ways of disseminating the voice, supplanting radio. It has even been a primary driver of the growth of music streaming services like Spotify. This creative-critical seminar situates the podcast historically, analyzes current instantiations of the genre, and teaches hands-on skills to create your own podcasts. The course also frames podcasts as a form of asynchronous dialogue that can be critically engaged with and utilized as a mechanism to comment on societal issues.

Learn More