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Public Policy Symposium at Santa Monica College Next Week  

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By Lookout Staff

May 3, 2017 -- Films, games, debates, panel discussions and a public art installation will be used to encourage citizen engagement during the Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute's (PPI) 6th Annual Spring Symposium next week.

The free symposium, which takes place in diverse venues next Monday through Thursday, explores "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," organizers said.

“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," said Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, the Institute's co-director and SMC political science professor.

The symposium kicks off Monday at 7 p.m. at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue, with a screening of the documentary “Agents of Change,” co-produced and co-directed by Abby Ginzberg and SMC Dean Frank Dawson.

The film "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 its ties to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dawson will be joined by SMC Associated Students President Terence Ware for a panel discussion after the screening.

On Tuesday, May 9, 11:15 a.m., SMC philosophy professors Amber Katherine, Paul Klumpe and Ali Moshen deliberate over "the meaning and prospects for objective knowledge as a path to public policy in the 21st century," organizers said.

The dialogue titled “Truth vs. Post-Truth: Implications for Californians Defending the Galaxy” takes place at the Humanities and Social Sciences Lecture Hall 165, SMC Main Campus, 1900 Pico Boulevard.

A screening of the film “Swimming in Auschwitz,” which interweaves the stories of six Jewish women imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust takes place at the Aero on Tuesday, May 9, at 7 p.m.

The women "maintained a spiritual resistance against their Nazi aggressors through prayer, community, music, and even humor," organizers said.

A panel discussion with director Jon Kean, Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, SMC professor Moshen and Attorney Ahilan Arulanantham, director of Advocacy and Immigrant Rights for the ACLU of Southern California, will follow the screening.

On Wednesday, May 10, at 6:30 p.m. participants can experience “We The People: A Projection Installation,” 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 event takes place on the second floor of the Cayton Center on the Main Campus.

Two events will wrap up the Symposium Thursday, May 11. At 11:15 a.m. there is a public performance of “Sanctuary-State Superheroes to the Rescue!” at the SMC Clock Tower on the Main campus.

A "speculative theme park" will "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," organizers said.

The event is presented by One Mile and SMC Public Policy Interns.

That evening at 7 p.m. the symposium presents a conversation "on the ways that California, through legislation and public policies, can continue to lead the nation and the world on important issues, organizers said.

The panel is composed of former State Senator Fran Pavley, Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati.

The event is at the Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club, 1210 4th Street.

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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