The University of Pennsylvania offers undergraduates remarkable opportunities to engage in extra-curricular, volunteer community service and social advocacy work. Each semester, more than two dozen special academically-based community service courses are also offered where students address such issues as urban healthcare, education, housing, and poverty in West Philadelphia neighborhoods.
The guiding mandate of the University bequeathed by its founder Benjamin Franklin and reiterated by its current President Amy Gutmann encourages the link between theory and practice toward creating the greater good. Building on this mandate and the well-honored record of civic engagement and scholarship, the University has established the Penn Civic Scholars Program.
This unique program provides a select group of undergraduates a sustained and sequential four-year experience that includes close faculty mentorship culminating in certification as Penn Civic Scholars at graduation. Up to fifteen freshmen join the program each year (the first cohort in fall 2007) and fifty-two Penn Civic Scholars are now on campus thriving and learning together in their interconnected service and scholarly experiences. Undergraduates from the College of Arts & Sciences, Penn Engineering, the School of Nursing, and the Wharton School are all eligible for admission to the program.
Penn Civic Scholars participate in a pre-orientation program prior to New Student Orientation and in proseminars during their freshman and sophomore years, engage and take leadership roles in community service or social advocacy initiatives, enroll in selected courses, participate in summer internships in the public interest, and conduct capstone research projects aimed at public policy recommendations.