Violence in America: Delaware Valley University Hosts Panel Discussions in New Business and Humanities Colloquium Series

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Delaware Valley University (DelVal) is pleased to announce their Business and Humanities Question It! Change It! Colloquium Series for fall 2022. The Colloquium Series is a forum for students and the broader DelVal community to engage in informed and guided conversations about contemporary problems and issues. Faculty in the School of Business and Humanities will present lectures addressing these current issues from their respective disciplines, facilitate discussion and provide resources to deepen understanding.

The topic for this year’s series is “Violence in America.” The persistence of mass shootings of schools, shopping malls, places of worship and entertainment venues has long captured public attention if rarely effective policy change, but violence in America goes far beyond and runs deeper than these all too often instances of mass bloodshed.

As of August 12 over 1,400 people have been shot in Philadelphia alone in 2022 and hundreds have died as a result. According to the PEW Research Center, more Americans died from gun-related injuries in 2020 than in any other year on record. America has a violence problem.

In this colloquium series, the University and featured speakers and presenters will explore the history and context of violence in America and steps towards change. The issue of the necessity of violence in some situations will also be addressed.

On September 22, the second presentation of the colloquium series, “Building Bridges: A Panel Discussion on Prison Reforms,” was given. The panel included Dr. Daniel J. O’Connell, a senior scientist at The University of Delaware Center for Drug and Health Studies and assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, Mr. Brian P. Boger, supervisor of program development at Bucks County Youth Center, and Mr. Simon Schackner, freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. Panelists discussed reforms and ongoing initiatives within the United States correctional system, including educational collaborations and partnerships, program development, as well as new directions in prison research. Audience members also had an opportunity to ask questions.

The panelists first shared what sparked their interest for criminal justice. “My interest in criminal justice probably stems to when I was arrested the first time,” says Dr. O’Connell. He explains that he spent a number of years in and out of jail. When he was released from prison, he began taking criminal justice courses and discovered that there were people in the industry doing great work on prison reform and programming, and he wanted to be a part of it.

Additionally, questions like, “What role do you think correctional programing may play in addressing violence?” and “How do you view the role of education in the prison system?” were asked. Mr. Shackner shared his experience working with women in prison who were pursuing their college degrees. “We were able to meet these women face to face and that was an amazing experience. Talking to them, and spending time with them outside of the classroom environment was incredibly rewarding.

The audience asked questions like “What are concrete steps people can take to get involved in prison reform?” “Are there provisions for prisoners with learning disabilities?” “What is currently being done to address substance abuse within prisons?” and more.

The entire panel discussion can be viewed on YouTube at

The next presentation, “Gun Crazy: Representations (and Repercussions) of Gun Violence in American Popular Culture” will be on Wednesday, September 28.

More information on DelVal’s Business and Humanities Colloquium Series can be found at