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2024 Spring Seminar Program

The spring 2024 seminars are currently underway. Click here to check out our Fall 2024 workshops.

The Teachers Institute of Philadelphia’s 15-week seminar program is open to non-charter school teachers throughout the School District of Philadelphia. Led by professors in the humanities, arts, social sciences, and STEM fields, the seminars enable participants (called fellows) to write original curriculum units based on the material they have learned. Participation in TIP helps teachers build their content knowledge and improve results in the classroom. Fellows develop creative ways to teach material required by District, state and national curriculum standards. Seminars meet in-person Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5-7 pm. Upon successful completion of the program, fellows earn 30 Act 48 credits and a $1,500 stipend.

Children’s Literature and the Immigrant Experience
H. Gerald Campano, Penn GSE
Thursdays at Penn

The human condition is increasingly characterized by mass migration due to war, climate change, neoliberalism, and histories of imperialism. Many people are dispossessed and displaced, and others move for survival and to provide better life opportunities for themselves and their families. This greater flow of people has also been met with a resurgence of nativism and ethnonationalism, but also a dedication to immigrant rights and well-being. One context where these political and social contestations play out is in the school system, where teachers are grappling with what it means to teach to the cultural, linguistic, and experiential pluralism of their student populations. This course investigates migration and human mobility through children’s literature and young adult fiction. It invites participants to develop curriculum that is responsive to the robust diversity of contemporary classrooms in Philadelphia and beyond. 


The Soviet Century: Russia, Socialism, and the Modern World
Benjamin Nathans, Penn History Dept.
Wednesdays at Penn

The Russian Revolution marked the opening of the “short twentieth century” (1917-1991), and its demise signaled that turbulent century’s end. During its lifetime, much of the world viewed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) as the defining political experiment, the greatest modern challenge to liberalism, capitalism, imperialism, and fascism. This course is about the Soviet Century. Topics include the emergence of the Soviet Union from the ruins of tsarist Russia, the role of ideology in state policy and everyday life, the Soviet Union as the center of world communism, the challenge of forging a new society from an ethnically diverse population, the Soviet Union’s epic defeat of Nazi Germany, its rise to the status of superpower, its various attempts to reform itself, and its sudden dissolution in 1991. We will follow the rulers (from Alexander II to Nicholas II to Lenin, from Stalin to Gorbachev to Putin) as well as the ruled (peasants, workers, intellectuals; Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Latvians, Armenians, Georgians, Azeris, and many others). The course will conclude with a consideration of the origins and consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The Past, Present, and Future of Latinx Studies
Rebeca L. Hey-Colón, Temple Spanish & Portuguese Dept.
Thursdays at Temple

The word “Latinx” often evokes strong reactions, a testament to the diversity of experiences it can address. This seminar is designed to offer a historical and theoretical framework through which to consider the continually evolving Latinx presence in the United States. Our conversations will start from the premise that we cannot fully understand the history of Latinx communities in the United States without acknowledging how this country’s presence has continually extended beyond its physical borders. Through the discussion and analysis of key Latinx cultural products, such as literature, music, and film, we will question what we mean when we evoke “the Latinx experience.” This seminar also aims to show how the field of Latinx studies complicates constructions of class, ethnicity, gender, language, and race (among others) in the United States, as well as in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Asian Meditation Traditions Past and Present
Deven Patel, Penn South Asia Studies Dept.
Thursdays at Penn

The contemporary world has become very familiar with the popular idea of “meditation” and “mindfulness.”  What is less familiar are the multiple traditions, some ancient and some modern, that inform what some term as today’s “contemplative sciences.” While meditation in some form has been a global practice, this class specifically explores the early roots of meditation in Asian cultures. We will become familiar with the theories that inform meditation in Asia, learn and practice specific techniques, trace their influences across time and across the world, and finally locate their presence today in the modern world. We will also explore how they have become, or may become, part of broader conversations and movements that address social justice, intercultural communication, sustainability, artistic expression, cognitive science, and general wellness. If logistics allow, we may visit meditation centers in the Philadelphia area or invite guest speakers to take us through specific techniques.