“Listening enables us to give democratic shape to our being together in the world,” according to the political philosopher Susan Bickford. In this course, we will explore histories and theories of listening and the power of listening as a means to connect with other times and spaces. In a world replete with suffering, listening is an essential skill that can help us find solace and community together, connecting what is singular in us with what binds us to another. Mindful of the dissolution of communal bonds that have intensified in the face of recent pandemics and crises, both domestically and globally, the course will also engage matters of public trust and social cohesion. To lay the groundwork for a renewed sense of civic identity, we will partner with several initiatives and organizations at Penn and beyond that seek to transform our individual experiences into a collective power and demonstrate the vitality of listening to democratic life.
This course is part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Paideia Program, which serves as a hub for dialogue in undergraduate education at Penn. SNF Paideia designated courses integrate students’ personal, professional, and civic development through “dialogue across difference” – i.e., engaging with diverse ideas and people for the purposes of mutual understanding, collective problem solving, and individual and community wellness. Engage further with Paideia’s mission to 'educate the whole person' at https://snfpaideia.upenn.edu.