Benjamin Franklin and His World

University of Pennsylvania

Welcome to "Benjamin Franklin and His World," an in-depth exploration of one of the United States’ most influential figures. This course examines the life and impact of Benjamin Franklin, covering his early years, professional endeavors, role in the American Revolution, and ethical complexities. Participants will engage with thought-provoking discussions on evaluating historical figures in a modern context.

  • Delve into Franklin's upbringing in the American colonies and his journey to becoming a prominent historical figure.
  • Explore Franklin’s multifaceted career as a printer, scientist, inventor, and politician, and gain insights into his ethical and moral dilemmas.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of Franklin’s involvement in the American Revolution and the founding of the United States, along with the complexities of evaluating historical figures in present-day contexts.
  • Confront Franklin’s connection to slavery and racism prevalent during his time, and examine his legacy through both a modern lens and historical context.

This course provides a unique opportunity to critically assess the life and impact of Benjamin Franklin, offering a comprehensive understanding of his contributions and complexities within American history and the broader world stage.

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Benjamin Franklin and His World
Course Modules

Embark on an enriching journey through four modules that explore the life, career, and complex legacy of Benjamin Franklin. Gain insights into his early life, professional career, role in the American Revolution, and ethical complexities.

Who Is Benjamin Franklin?

Discover Benjamin Franklin's formative years in the American colonies and his early experiences that shaped his influential life.

  • Gain insights into Franklin's apprenticeship and early career as a printing apprentice and journalist.
  • Explore Franklin's time in London and his experiences in the 18th-century British colonies.
  • Engage in thought-provoking conversations about Franklin’s virtues, moral diary, and his impact on modern-day assessments.

Franklin's Professional Career

Uncover Benjamin Franklin’s multifaceted professional career, from his ethical considerations and family life to his achievements as a scientist, inventor, and politician.

  • Delve into the ethical complexities surrounding Franklin, including his engagement with plagiarism and his civic and political endeavors.
  • Explore Franklin’s scientific experiments, inventions, and his renowned contributions to society.
  • Engage in reflective activities while gaining a comprehensive understanding of Franklin's professional journey.

Revolution and a New Constitution

Examine Franklin’s pivotal role in the American Revolution and his contributions to the formation of a new nation, along with his involvement in the Constitutional Convention.

  • Explore the events leading to the Revolutionary War and Franklin's diplomatic endeavors in Paris and the Continental Congress.
  • Gain insights into Franklin’s involvement in the Constitutional Convention and the ethical considerations surrounding these historical events.
  • Reflect on Franklin’s enduring impact on American history and the world stage.

Wrestling with Franklin's Legacy

Confront the complexities of Benjamin Franklin's legacy, including his connections to racism and slavery, and evaluate his life through a modern lens and historical context.

  • Examine Franklin’s involvement with racism and slavery, engaging in insightful conversations to understand his complex legacy.
  • Evaluate Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, his impact on Philadelphia, and reflect on his enduring influence in American history.
  • Engage in activities that encourage thoughtful reflection on Franklin’s legacy and his place in modern-day assessments of historical figures.
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