Commons Speaker Series– Dr. Karin Deutsch Karlekar

At the end of May, we were honored to have Harley alum Karin Deutsch Karlekar (’89) on campus as our final Commons Speaker Series presenter. Karin is the Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN America, and she worked previously at Freedom House; both organizations used her to address free speech issues globally. Prior to her arrival in Rochester, she was asked to call in as a guest on Evan Dawson’s radio show Connections, joined in the studio by Seth O’Bryan and Viccy Tausk ’17. The podcast of that show can be heard here.

Karin no sooner arrived in Rochester from NYC on Thursday, May 26th, then we whisked her away to meet with the assembled 8th Grade class to discuss her work and add a current and personal view on what Doug Gilbert’s students have been learning about in their History classes.

Later that evening at the Commons Speaker Series, Karin presented an extensive look at freedom of speech globally and the work PEN America is doing to support journalists and writers in countries ranging from open to incredibly closed to free speech. Some recent celebratory stories were shared, as well (Khadija Ismayilova). The audience engaged her with insightful and probing questions about her work, her worries, and her predictions for the future.

The following day, Karin Deutsch Karlekar spent with with each of Dr. Sheradin’s Human Rights classes, giving them a perspective on this US constitutional right that is not widely applied across the globe. We were delighted to have her share her important work and her keen insights into how the playing field is always shifting, especially with the advent of social media.

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