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Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

“The Asian American Studies Program is delighted that Kalpen Modi, a.k.a. Kal Penn, chose our program to host his teaching engagement...[Penn] is one of the leading Asian-American actors of his generation and is particularly aware of how his racial and ethnic identification has affected his professional experiences.”
"Grace Kao
Asian American Studies program director

Students with glazed eyes and the munchies at the University of Pennsylvania don’t have to rent a movie to laugh at Kal Penn’s comedy; they just have to go to class.

“Kumar,” of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle fame, will teach two classes at U of Pennsylvania. The classes are tentatively titled “Contemporary American Teen Films” and “Images of Asian Americans in the Media.”

In addition to his acting experience, Penn has a B.A. in sociology with a specialization in theatre, film and television and is doing graduate work at Stanford.

It’s a smart move by the university, as Penn’s presence will probably generate more applications while also giving students a different learning experience.

What separates the good profs from the great ones is the ability to make otherwise dull content fun and interesting. It’s likely a class taught by a comedian like Penn would be entertaining, an aspect many university courses lack.

While it remains to be seen whether Penn will actually offer academic insight and keep students interested simultaneously, the actor’s opportunity to teach challenges professors to have more fun with their material and actors to keep their audiences thinking.

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