Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute Presents 6th Annual Spring Symposium May 8-11


Via Santa Monica College press release.

The Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute (PPI) presents its 6th Annual Spring Symposium May 8-11, 2017. The theme for this year’s symposium is “Liberty and Justice for All !?#$*: Californians as Guardians of the Galaxy in a Post-Truth Era.”

The symposium features documentary film screenings, panel discussions, student debates, speakers, and public art installations for audiences to explore the ways in which California’s citizens can influence public policy to protect our values in not only our neighborhoods, but throughout the country and the world. All symposium events are free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-arrival basis. Public parking is limited during the day at SMC. Please allow extra time when attending events. See for transportation options.

“Our students really wanted this year’s symposium to reflect the times in which we are living. Students want to be guardians of liberty and are ready to engage in public policy more than ever before,” said PPI co-director and SMC political science professor Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein. “Our annual spring symposium gives students, and the larger community, an incredible opportunity to engage in concentrated programming that arms them with the information they need to tackle the important public policy issues affecting their communities.

The symposium lineup is:

Monday, May 8, 7 p.m.: Documentary screening: “Agents of Change”

Co-produced and co-directed by Abby Ginzberg and SMC Dean Frank Dawson, this powerful documentary examines the untold story of racial conditions on college campuses, which led to protests across the nation in the wake of the Civil Rights movement, and raises parallel questions today regarding the inclusiveness, identity, and racial stereotyping that lie at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement. A panel discussion after the screening features Frank Dawson and SMC Associated Students President Terence Ware. Free. Aero Theater (1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica).

Tuesday, May 9, 11:15 a.m.: Dialogue: “Truth vs. Post-Truth: Implications for Californians Defending the Galaxy”

SMC philosophers deliberate over the meaning and prospects for objective knowledge as a path to public policy in the 21st century. Does truth matter anymore? Facilitated by SMC professors Amber Katherine, Paul Klumpe, and Ali Moshen. Free. Humanities and Social Sciences Lecture Hall 165, SMC Main Campus (1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica).

Tuesday, May 9, 7 p.m.: Film screening: “Swimming in Auschwitz”

Director Jon Kean interweaves the stories of six Jewish women – imprisoned during the Holocaust in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp – who maintained a spiritual resistance against their Nazi aggressors through prayer, community, music, and even humor. After the screening, Director Kean will participate in a panel discussion with Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, SMC professor Ali Moshen, and ACLU of Southern California Director of Advocacy and Immigrant Rights Attorney Ahilan Arulanantham focusing on how the film not only pays homage to the incredible spirit of survival of these women, but also serves as a cautionary tale regarding the treatment of immigrants and refugees in today’s society. Free. Aero Theater (1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica).

Wednesday, May 10, 6:30 p.m.: Art: “We The People: A Projection Installation”

Experience an education and advocacy video project unveiling personal narratives from SMC and beyond about what it is like to live in the Post-Truth Era when your civil rights are on the line. The video will be followed by a panel discussion with the students who created the project about how the video can be used as a tool for change. Free. Cayton Center, Second Floor Lobby, SMC College Main Campus (1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica).

Thursday, May 11, 11:15 a.m.: Public performance: “Sanctuary-State Superheroes to the Rescue!”

Join us at the SMC Clock Tower for a speculative theme park to unleash, challenge, and develop your inner California political superpowers through games and dialogue on diversity, freedom of expression, immigration, healthcare for all, and respect for the environment. Presented by One Mile and SMC Public Policy Interns. Free. Clock Tower, SMC Main Campus (1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica)

Thursday, May 11, 7 p.m.: Dialogue: “The Justice League: Keynote Discussion with Local and State Policymakers”

How will we protect the rights and liberties of our citizens’ uniquely Californian way of life? Join environmental advocate and former State Senator Fran Pavley, Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer, and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati for a conversation on the ways that California, through legislation and public policies, can continue to lead the nation and the world on important issues. Free. Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club (1210 4th Street, Santa Monica).

SMC’s Public Policy Institute provides nonpartisan community programs exploring key economic, social, and political issues. The Institute, which presents information discussions on the policy issues that affect our daily lives, proudly offers an Associate in Arts degree and Certificate of Achievement in Public Policy, with specialties in five public policy areas: arts and cultural affairs, education, environment and sustainability, public health, and urban/socioeconomic issues.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Associated Students of Santa Monica College, SMC Associates, and Santa Monica College Foundation.

If an accommodation due to a disability is needed to participate in any of these events, please contact Stephanie Schlatter at or (310) 434-4313, at least 5 business days in advance.

For more information about the symposium or the Public Policy Institute, go to or call (310) 434-3541.

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