PEN America at the Fall 2022 Augustana Symposium Day

Once a semester, Augustana College devotes a full day to an alternative approach for learning and opens the process to the entire campus community. The college believes this multidisciplinary approach to discuss a theme exemplifies the value of liberal learning. Symposium Days include invited speakers, alumni, advising sessions and opportunities to practice the liberal arts and be involved with our community. This year for Augustana College’s Fall Symposium Day PEN America will be hosting a keynote and workshop in-person on campus that embodies the Symposium Day’s theme of Civil Discourse. Registration is open to students and faculty at Augustana College. More information about the event and registration can be found here.


Keynote Session: PEN America: Defending Free Expression for 100 Years

For 100 years, literary and human rights nonprofit PEN America has brought a unique lens to free expression advocacy, defending not only the free exchange of ideas, but also celebrating the power of the written word, and standing against disinformation and hate. This session will introduce students to the cardinal underpinnings of our free expression philosophy and its importance in our organization’s practical work supporting writers, artists, activists, journalists, and allies around the world. We will take a look at both historical and contemporary thought leaders who add new and unique framings to conversations around free expression as not only an American tradition but an international human right that is core to democracy and social justice. Come join us for this interactive conversation about why free expression matters globally, nationally, and on-campus as we gear up for a fresh semester, election season, and new year.


Workshop: The Ethics of Storytelling: Rethinking Art, Appropriation, and Accountability

Literary and human rights organization, PEN America, believes that all writers and artists should experience the freedom to imagine and create vibrant and exploratory worlds without censorship. What happens though when a creator bases their work around a story from a community they do not belong to? Do creators have an intrinsic responsibility to consider accuracy, representation, and ownership when dealing with another’s art or history? In this session, PEN America will invite students to think about the ethical and moral implications of storytelling, and where to draw the lines around creative expression, appropriation, and authenticity. We will discuss non-censorious approaches to stories and art we find inaccurate or distasteful, and consider innovative methods of counterspeech as ways to spread awareness and push for social accountability.



Nicholas Perez headshotNicholas “Niko” Perez is the program manager of free expression and education at PEN America. In this role, he advances PEN America’s efforts to catalyze a more informed, civic culture through free expression education for the rising generation and the general public, and supports advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion in higher education. Perez co-directs the Free Expression Advocacy Institute. Perez previously worked for the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates Program and consulted for the Human Rights Education and Training section at the United Nations. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in human rights and humanitarian policy and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international politics


Peris Tushabe headshotPeris Tushabe is the free expression and education program assistant at PEN America, supporting PEN America’s advocacy for free expression in educational institutions as well as the Free Speech Advocacy Institute. She is a recent graduate of Skidmore College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science (and a concentration in comparative politics) with a minor in French language studies. Prior to joining PEN America, Tushabe interned at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum as a public programming assistant, and worked for candidate Tedra Cobb in her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.