This page includes information that may not reflect the current views and values of the Penn Museum.


The Public Classroom

Starting a Dialogue.

The Public Classroom @ Penn Museum is a collaborative educational program crafted for the general public. Building on the University of Pennsylvania’s vision of inclusion, innovation, and impact, The Public Classroom brings together leading experts from multidisciplinary backgrounds for a powerful exploration of contemporary issues of our global society. The semester-long series of free evening classes are geared toward adults and young adults, ages 14 and up. Each session will build upon the foundations of the other—much like an academic program—and will include a series of resources to help participants frame each discussion and support continued discourse.

Collections as Inspiration.

Founded in 1887, the Penn Museum has always been one of the world’s great archaeology and anthropology research museums, and the largest university museum in the United States. Our collections have many stories to share. With roughly one million objects in our care, the Penn Museum encapsulates and illustrates the human story: who we are and where we came from. Utilizing the esteemed collections of the Penn Museum as inspiration, The Public Classroom brings the rich stories told by these objects to the fore.

Multidisciplinary Perspectives.

We learn best when we share and debate ideas with fellow learners, to understand their different experiences and perspectives and to fill the gaps in our own knowledge. The scholars and experts who work and research at the University of Pennsylvania are without comparison—representing wide-ranging disciplines of anthropology, sociology, art history, medicine, law, and beyond. Each class features a panel of three to five experts, with discussions led by notable moderators. We believe in healthy debates, and discussions are encouraged, both among our experts and with you!

A Community Resource.

The Penn Museum is a museum of the world and for the world—at its heart, about exploration and discovery. We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries, form new ideas, and forge new connections in our shared community. The Public Classroom will feature online resources and reading materials to support continued learning including live-stream videos of each panel, select materials to explore from the collection, and age-appropriate teaching tools for use with younger audiences. Tapping into the unique learning opportunities afforded by this program, Penn’s Camra media program will develop accompanying documentaries and short films, designed for middle school audiences and older, and available to all in 2017.

We invite you to join us.

Science and Race: History, Use, and Abuse originally ran in the fall of 2016. Please check the Penn Museum website for announcements of future Public Classroom series.

Attend Virtually

Each session was live-streamed. Those videos are available for viewing on each classroom page and on the film page.


How To Use The Public Classroom

Brief summary of the course, online resources, and suggestions for use.

Using the Public Classroom


Useful For:

Tips for teachers, parents, and individuals looking to engage deeply with questions of race