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Public Interest Week

The 13th Annual Public Interest Week, February 1 - 5, 2021

                                              

 

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic all events will be conducted virtually.

Continue to check back as more information is added everyday!

 Please note that events are free unless requesting CLE and open to all unless otherwise noted, however RSVPs are required.

 

Some 233 years ago, the framers of the Constitution laid out their vision for America. The document opens in the preamble “[w]e the People of the United States…,” though at the time all who lived within its borders were not considered “people.” Now we revisit the origins of America as the nation collectively reexamines its legacy of racial injustice. TPIC invites you to join us as we consider throughout the week how we can reframe America, its legacy of racial injustice, and how we collectively move towards a more racially just world.

 

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

Schedule of Events

Please look for additional details via email, announcements, Twitter, and Facebook. Feel free to contact all-tpic@law.upenn.edu with any questions.

Monday 2/1:

Fast and Loose with Facial Recognition Technology: Modern Tech, Race and Civil Liberties

12:00 - 1:15 PM | Virtual via Zoom

Student Group Organizers: ITS Collective

 

The United States has a deep history of wielding science and technology as tools of structural racism. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more ubiquitous, it becomes more urgent to challenge this dark history through a critical examination of the impact of AI deployment on black and brown communities and to contemplate the levers that can be used to address it.

This session will highlight this issue by examining the use of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) by police during times of protest. FRT, which attempts to identify individuals by extracting and comparing distinct facial features, has been met with palpable apprehension: cities around the country have banned the use of FRT by their police, tech companies have placed moratoriums on sales of FRT to police, and dozens of related lawsuits against government entities using and companies providing FRT have alleged privacy violations. In parallel, researchers have shown frailties in FRT’s application to non-white faces, as well as the disproportionate deployment of FRT to police communities of color.

Panelists will share their work scoping this problem. A short explainer film will bring participants up to speed on the issue, and a panel discussion on race, technology, and civil liberties. The session will offer an assessment of the present and identify avenues for collectively moving towards a more racially just world.

 

This program has been approved for 1.0 Ethics CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should make a payment via the online registration link in the amount of $20.00 ($10.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys). In order to receive the appropriate amount of credit, passcodes provided throughout the program must be noted in your evaluation form.

 

Penn Law Alumni receive CLE credits free through The W.P. Carey Foundation’s generous commitment to Lifelong Learning.

 

Navigating Everyday Racism: A Conversation about Racial Literacy with Dr. Howard Stevenson
5:00 - 6:30 PM | Pre-Recorded Virtual via Zoom


Dr. Howard Stevenson is the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education, Professor of Africana Studies, in the Human Development & Quantitative Methods Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Read more of his biography.

Tuesday 2/2:

A Life Unraveled: A Conversation about Expungements, Pardons, and Overpolicing Communities

12:00 – 1:15 PM | Virtual via Zoom

Student Group Organizers: Criminal Record Expungement Project

 

Please join the Criminal Record Expungement Project (C-REP) in a conversation on pardons, expungements, overpolicing, and race. C-REP is excited to welcome DeRay Mckesson of Campaign Zero; Brandon Flood, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons; and Akeem Sims, the J. Gordon Cooney Fellow at Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE). Panelists will discuss the role pardons and expungements play in the criminal justice system, how overcriminalization affects communities of color, and the barriers to full citizenship faced by those with records. The panel will be moderated by Taylor Pacheco (L’16), Staff Attorney at PLSE.

Panelists:
DeRay McKesson, Educator, Author, Civil Rights Activist and Co-founder of Campaign Zero
Brandon Flood, Secretary Pennsylvania Board of Pardons
Akeem Sims, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) Board Member
Taylor Pacheco, L’16 Staff Attorney at Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE), Moderator

 

This program has been approved for 1.0 Ethics CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should make a payment via the online registration link in the amount of $20.00 ($10.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys). In order to receive the appropriate amount of credit, passcodes provided throughout the program must be noted in your evaluation form.

 

Penn Law Alumni receive CLE credits free through The W.P. Carey Foundation’s generous commitment to Lifelong Learning.

Wednesday 2/3:

White Supremacy, Anthropogenic Climate Change, and What Lawyers Can Do
12:00 – 1:15 PM | Virtual Via Zoom

Student Group Organizers: Environmental Law Project

 

There is an existential and exceedingly relevant question of the intersection of white supremacy in America and the climate crisis. Often, the dialogue sees this intersection just as that: a brief crossroads of the two, one lens through which to view either environmentalism or antiracism. This panel will address the environmental movement and the fight to dismantle white supremacy not just as an intersection, but as inextricably linked on the same road.

 

The panelists will explore the history of colonialism that has created sacrifice zones like Cancer Alley, the machine of capitalism that has empowered and emboldened fossil fuel corporations, and finally, what a lawyer who wants to face the rapidly rising tides can do.

 

The goal of the event is to communicate that we cannot survive climate change without dismantling white supremacy. As Hop Hopkins writes, “You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can’t have disposable people without racism.” An effort to dismantle America’s system of white supremacy will necessarily require, and bring with it, a reckoning with the climate crisis.

Panelists:
Melissa Iachan, Senior Staff Attorney & Lobbying Compliance Counsel, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYPLI)
Amy Laura Cahn, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation

 

This program has been approved for 1.0 Ethics CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should make a payment via the online registration link in the amount of $20.00 ($10.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys). In order to receive the appropriate amount of credit, passcodes provided throughout the program must be noted in your evaluation form.

 

Penn Law Alumni receive CLE credits free through The W.P. Carey Foundation’s generous commitment to Lifelong Learning.

 

A Conversation with Honorary Fellow in Residence Benjamin Jealous
5:00-6:30 PM | Virtual via Zoom

Our 2021 Honorary Fellow in Residence Mr. Benjamin Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation. Mr. Jealous served as the president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 2008 to 2013. Read more of his biography here.

Thursday 2/4:

RJ3: The Intersection of Reproductive, Racial, and Restorative Justice
12:00 - 1:15 PM | Virtual via Zoom

Student Group Organizers: If/When/How Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, Penn Black Law Students Association, Penn Law Feminists

 

It is critical to understand how issues of reproductive and gender justice are inseparable from and dependent on racial justice. This panel will focus on the intersection of racial, reproductive, and restorative justice, to facilitate a timely and important discussion on the compatibility of abolition (e.g. decarceration, defunding, decriminalization) with justice for survivors of gender-based and other violence. These two important social goals are very much in line with each other and yet are rarely seen as such. We aim to show that it is possible to respond to violence in non-violent ways that don’t perpetuate the cycles of harm and trauma.

The event’s goal is to outline best practices for responding to instances of sexual and partner violence within reforms supportive of prison/police abolition.

 

Panelists:
Lydia Caradonna, Writer, Founding Member of Decrim Now, and Sex Worker
Vikki Law, Author, Freelance Writer and Editor

 

This program has been approved for 1.0 Ethics CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should make a payment via the online registration link in the amount of $20.00 ($10.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys). In order to receive the appropriate amount of credit, passcodes provided throughout the program must be noted in your evaluation form.

 

Penn Law Alumni receive CLE credits free through The W.P. Carey Foundation’s generous commitment to Lifelong Learning.

 

Decolonizing the Stacks
5:00 - 6:30 PM • Virtual via Zoom

Penn Carey Law Partner: Biddle Law Library

As Dr. Nicole A. Cooke writes, decolonization of the library is a process that involves “decentering whiteness, and being more inclusive to voices of color and to voices that represent diverse perspectives” in our libraries and collections. She notes that “[a]s librarians … we must have honest, direct conversations about anti-racism, equity, and inclusion, and acknowledge our roles as gatekeepers and in privileging Western norms. We can no longer privilege the ‘canon’ or maintain the status quo. We must devote significant and substantive time to discussing the field’s diversity problems, our implicit biases, and the language we use. Specifically, we must reconsider how we think and speak about systemic racism and inequity and how that’s baked into the infrastructure of our society.”
Several panelists will discuss the steps they have taken in their work to decolonize their libraries, including decentering whiteness, building collections centering BIPOC voices, and creating digital collections confronting the fight to integrate the student body of a major university.
Additionally, we thank the Association of Native Alumni of the University of Pennsylvania for drafting the following land acknowledgement for the University of Pennsylvania: “We recognize and acknowledge that the University of Pennsylvania stands on the Indigenous territory known as ‘Lenapehoking,’ the traditional homelands of the Lenape, also called Lenni-Lenape or Delaware Indians. These are the people who, during the 1680s, negotiated with William Penn to facilitate the founding of the colony of Pennsylvania. Their descendants today include the Delaware Tribe and Delaware Nation of Oklahoma; the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, Ramapough Lenape, and Powhatan Renape of New Jersey; and the Munsee Delaware of Ontario.”

Friday 2/5:

40th Annual Sparer Symposium 

 

Reimagining Freedom: Abolition as a Practice
8:45 AM - 4:30 PM EST | Virtual via Zoom

This year’s conference will explore abolitionism as a framework and value system that, when practiced broadly, can not only dismantle the carceral state but also change how we conceptualize and experience freedom in all segments of society. We will investigate how systems maintain racial dominance and control and then reimagine societies that are free of state surveillance and punitive norms by providing practical ways to utilize abolitionist thinking. This symposium will take the form of moderated panels on abolitionism and activism as they relate to prisons, immigration, housing, and the child welfare system.

 

Click here for more Information

 

This program has been approved for 7.0 total CLE credits (4.0 substantive credits and 3.0 ethics credits) for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should make a payment via the online registration link in the amount of $280.00 ($70.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys). In order to receive the appropriate amount of credit, passcodes provided throughout the program must be noted in your evaluation form.
Penn Law Alumni receive CLE credits free through The W.P. Carey Foundation’s generous commitment to Lifelong Learning.