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Swarthmore Discussion Group

Department Overview

A Special Message from the Board of the Swarthmore Discussion Group

Our Fall 2024 Series — September, October, November and December —  will be held in-person.  We are excited that we can gather together again at The Inn, and we hope you'll join us for a memorable in-person experience.



The Swarthmore Discussion Group (SDG) offers members the opportunity to hear knowledgeable speakers and engage in lively conversation with local community members as well as Swarthmore College staff, faculty, and alumni.

Our speakers are distinguished scholars, community leaders, and experts in their field. Following their presentations on topics including politics, foreign affairs, economics, cultural, and social issues they welcome the questions, discussion, and debate engaged in by members.

Please  join our Fall 2024 Series of four monthly presentations on Wednesday evenings. We will meet in-person at The Inn at Swarthmore. The membership fee includes a catered dinner to accompany each inspiring lecture. No refunds are available.

Fall 2024 Swarthmore Discussion Group Series

Sept. 18, 2024

Words to Stop Saying Right Now

​​​​​Jeffrey Barg, Former Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist

Jeffrey Barg, better known as the Angry Grammarian, writes about how grammar, language and punctuation shape our world. The former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist will discuss how your linguistic foibles affect those around you - and how we all can do better. His talk will include a humorous song or two from his 2024 musical, The Angry Grammarian. 

Oct. 16,  2024

Exploring the mechanics of machine learning in AI: Revealing ethical implications 

Lisa Meeden, Professor of Computer Science, Swarthmore College

What does it mean for a machine to learn? In this talk we will see machine learning models in action, training them from scratch to learn several categorization tasks. We will explore how these models work, highlighting both their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss the ethical implications that arise as a result of how they work an are used today. 

Nov. 20, 2024

Can U.S. Democracy Survive the 2024 Elections?

Michael X. Delli Carpini, Ph.D., Oscar H. Gandy Emeritus Professor of Communication & Democracy, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Recent politics has been characterized by an onslaught of controversial and difficult policy issues; record levels of hyper-partisanship, incivility, and disinformation; and declining trust in the media and institutions of government. In this lecture, Delli Carpini will assess the results of the November 5th U.S. elections, put them in the context of recent trends, and discuss their short-and longer-term implications for the future of American democracy. 

Dec. 11, 2024

A Child Held Hostage: Revisiting the 1970 Hijacking

Martha Hodes, Author and Professor of History, New York Univeristy

On September 6, 1970, twelve-year-old Hodes and her thirteen-year-old sister were flying home from Israel unaccompanied, when their plane was hijacked by the secular Marxist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Decades later, beginning with her own hazy memories, Professor Hodes drew on her skills as a historian to re-create her week as a hostage in the Jordanian desert. The experience, then and now, prompted her to learn about the lives and causes of her captors, pondering a deadly divide that continues today— ultimately prompting a complex confrontation with trauma and empathy. 

When and Where

SDG's Fall 2024 Series convenes on the second or third Wednesday of each month from September through December. We are delighted to return to our in-person format, and will gather together at The Inn at Swarthmore. 

Time (ET)

5–6 p.m. Happy Hour at The Inn at Swarthmore, Broad Table Tavern
6-7 p.m  Dinner in the Gathering Room at The Inn at Swarthmore
7–8:15 p.m. Presentation and Q & A

Location, Cost, and Registration

The Fall 2024 Series will be held in person, and includes a catered dinner. Registration is now open. The fee for the series of four presentations with dinner is $190 per person, with payment due by Sept. 10.  Space for single-talk registrations may be available. Contact Meghan Bloome for more information. 

 Register for the Fall 2024 series.


Contact Meghan Bloome at We thank you for your support of the Swarthmore Discussion Group.