The American Democracy Project at Pennsylvania Western University will present a virtual panel discussion exploring global identification and connection-building across societal divides at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 26.

The event, “Ask an Expert: Are we able to identify with and feel connected with people around the world?,” will be accessible via Zoom and streamed live in the following locations:

  • California campus: Duda Hall 103
  • Clarion campus: Founders Hall 203
  • Edinboro campus: Compton Hall 107A

International researchers from the Identification with All Humanity Lab will address topics of self-transcendence, empathy and enhancing international cooperation to address real-world problems. Question and answer sessions will follow facilitated by PennWest faculty members Dr. Justin Hackett (California), Dr. Kevan Yenerall (Clarion) and Dr. Ron Craig (Edinboro).

"PennWest is a proud member of the American Democracy Project, and we continue to lead by example and advocate for the kind of democratic engagement and civic mindedness the program embodies," said Dr. Laura Tuennerman, professor of history and director of ADP at PennWest. "From encouraging voting and promoting community dialogues to developing the civic skills that stimulate critical thinking and action, PennWest is committed to preparing our students to lead for future generations.”

Panelists for the March 26 event, which is free and open to the public, include:

  • Dr. Anna Włodarczyk is a cross-cultural and political psychologist and associate professor in the School of Psychology at the Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta, Chile. Włodarczyk will discuss “Collective effervescence, self-transcendence, and gender differences in social well-being during International Women's Day: A nine country study.”
  • Dr. Katarzyna Hamer is head of the IWAH Lab, social and political psychologist, and associate professor at the Institute of Psychology of Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. Hamer will address “Global social identifications around the world and their connection to concern for global problems and sustainable development goals.”
  • Dr. Theofilos Gkinopoulos, an assistant professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, will explore “Beliefs in conspiracy theories and societal divides: Current evidence and directions forward.”
  • Dr. Justin Hackett is a psychology professor and chairperson of PennWest’s Department of Psychology, Counseling and Art Therapy. He will present “Can identification with all humanity moderate political beliefs?”

PennWest joins the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the American Democracy Project, a nonpartisan multi-campus initiative focused on higher education's role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. Its goal is to produce graduates who are committed to being active, involved citizens in their communities.