Penn State Berks announces October LionSide Chats

Penn State Berks LionSide Chats Logo
Credit: Penn State

WYOMISSING, Pa. — Penn State Berks is reaching out to the local community in a new way – through "LionSide Chats," a modern interpretation of former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era “Fireside Chats.” These webinars provide current and timely talks from college faculty and staff experts on a variety of topics and disciplines.

The one-hour webinars (30 minutes of content, 30 minutes discussion/questions) are free and open to the public. All LionSide Chats will be delivered via Zoom webinars. A complete schedule of talks and recordings of past LionSide Chats are available on the LionSide Chats website.


“Race 101: Critical Conversations: Exploring Structural Determinism through Criminal Justice Policies”

Oct. 2, 12:15–1:15 p.m. — Presented by the Penn State Berks Social Justice Collaborative

In this second session of the Race 101 series, students and faculty will explore the concept of structural determinism, one of the key tenets of critical race theory. Through an examination of the Thirteenth Amendment, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration, the discussion will raise issues of how structural racism is embedded in our legal and criminal justice systems.

“We Are…Advised”

Oct. 5, 12:15–1:15 p.m. — Presented by Michael Stella, senior Undergraduate Studies adviser, Penn State Berks

Details about the topic of conversation for this chat will be forthcoming on the LionSide Chats website.

“We Are…Somebody”

Oct. 14, 12:15-1:15 p.m. — Presented by Becky Eckenrode, associate director of admissions, Penn State Berks

Details about the topic of conversation for this chat will be forthcoming on the LionSide Chats website.

“We Are…Professional”

Oct. 19, 12:15–1:15 p.m. — Presented by Patricia Jepsen, coordinator of Career Services, Penn State Berks

This webinar will cover the skills needed to become a professional; as a Penn Stater, this begins as early as you set foot on campus as a first-year student. The professional branding practice begins with an action plan. Topics will include defining an action plan; evaluating strengths and weaknesses and the Emotional Intelligence Quotient; what it means to brand to become a professional; how to prepare a marketable resume; how to manage online presence; and how to land the first internship or full-time position.

“Simulation Modeling of COVID-19 Intervention Decisions”

Oct. 29, 7-8 p.m. — Presented by Abdullah Konak, professor of information sciences and technology, Penn State Berks

This discussion will introduce how simulation models can be used to predict the outcomes of COVID-19 containment measures such as testing, contact tracing, social distancing, and self-isolation. Elected officials have been increasingly relying on epidemiological models to guide their decisions and communicating their policy choices to the public through visual aids created by these models. Through various media outlets, the public has seen graphs illustrating the spread of COVID-19 and learned the concept of “flattening the curve” so that our healthcare providers have the adequate resources needed to treat COVID-19 patients without being overwhelmed.

About LionSide Chats

Inspired by his family and friend’s desire for intellectual engagement during the current stay-at-home orders, Ryan Hassler, associate teaching professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks, realized that the faculty and staff at the college could help to fill that void. After approaching colleagues Dawn Pfeifer Reitz, assistant teaching professor of communication arts and sciences, and Sonia Delaquito, learning center coordinator, they put their heads together and came up with the concept for LionSide Chats, an educational platform for communication and gathering as our nation continues to face the challenges of COVID-19. 

Hassler stated, “What most impressed me was the faculty and staff who immediately indicated interest in offering a LionSide Chat based on their own unique expertise. LionSide Chats will enable us to reach beyond the boundaries of our campus and invite ourselves into the homes of our neighbors as we provide enriched and engaged dialog for our community.” 

Delaquito commented, “In a time when the majority of our everyday tasks have shifted online, this is Penn State Berks’ attempt to bridge the gap between the community and the college.” 

“The LionSide Chat series is a classic example of great ideas blossoming through communication and collaboration,” summarized Reitz.

For more information and to view the LionSide Chats schedule, visit the website or email [email protected].