Bearing Witness: The Legacy of Jan Karski Today

Co-taught by Lab co-director Derek Goldman, playwright Clark Young, and inclusive pedagogy specialist Ijeoma Njaka, ‘Bearing Witness’ was a one-credit course offered in the fall semester of 2020. The course explored the life and legacy of Jan Karski, the Polish resistance fighter and Holocaust witness who brought the true horrors of the Nazi genocide to the attention of Allied leaders. The course was centered around a new film version of Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski, originally a play co-written by Goldman and Young. Using Karski’s life and teachings as inspiration, students examined their own relationship to the current historical moment, how individuals may bear witness to history and, following Karski’s example, “shake the conscience of the world.”

 

Dialogue and Difference: Performing One Another

This innovative 5-credit course, co-taught by Lab co-director Derek Goldman, Lab Think Tank member Daniel Brumberg, and Professor Cory Grewell of Patrick Henry College, offered students the opportunity to use performance to listen across ideological divides. Dialogue and Difference grew out of In Your Shoes, a Lab project that brought together students from Georgetown University and Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian school in rural Virginia. Like In Your Shoes, this course used theater games and performance to create space for meaningful dialogue about complex political issues. The cornerstone of the course was ‘performing one another,’ an exercise in listening and performance in which two partners listen, record, transcribe, and perform the stories of one another.

 

Encounters in Global Performance

Encounters in Global Performance, offered in Spring 2020, was a course produced in partnership with the Kennedy Center. Co-taught by Derek Goldman and Ijeoma Njaka, this course gave students the opportunity to watch and discuss performances at the intersection of politics and performance.

 

Centennial Lab: Politics and Performance

Taught by Lab co-directors Derek Goldman and Cynthia Schneider, Politics and Performance combined theater exercises, live performances, and visits from theatermakers, artists, diplomats, and policy experts to expose students to the rich intersection of artistic performance and international politics. The course was centered on a spring break trip to Cambodia, where students spoke with artists, politicians, and academics working to make sense of that country’s complicated history.