Liberal Arts for the 21st Century

With state-of-the-art labs, boundary-breaking research, and collaborations between faculty, students, and community members, the liberal arts at Penn are always evolving.  At the close of the Power of Penn Arts & Sciences Campaign, we are bolder and bigger, with a with a diverse student body driven by curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking and a dynamic faculty engaged in research and knowledge-building across the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.

Impact: Foundations

Faculty Distinction and Student Potential

Our faculty and students are what make Penn Arts & Sciences exceptional. Over the course of the campaign, new endowed professorships amplified the eminence and diversity of our faculty and academic leadership at all levels and across all disciplines and more than $100 million was added to the School’s undergraduate financial aid endowment.

Presidential Professors

Presidential professorships bring prominent thinkers to the School and reward exceptional scholars who contribute to our diverse, inclusive community and create new opportunities for student learning. From Tyshawn Sorey, a performer, composer, and renowned figure in contemporary music, to Daniel Gillion, a scholar of politics and protest who became an in-demand expert during the protests of 2020, Presidential professors are integral to Penn’s lively, generative academic community.

Artists-in-Residence

Artists-in-residence are creative thinkers, makers, and practitioners who enrich campus life and complement academic perspectives with their work. Jennifer Egan, C’85, a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer; and Ricardo A. Bracho, a writer, editor, teacher, and playwright, are just two recent artists-in-residence who acted as mentors in the classrooms, workshops, and studios.

Charting Their Paths

All-grant financial aid, paid research fellowships, and innovative undergraduate programming means that students are free to experiment. Undergrads may find themselves realizing long-held goals, like when Marvin Morgan, C’21, did original research on dark matter in an astrophysics lab. They may also discover new passions, like when Bayley Tuch, C’21 became hooked on political science and pursued a fellowship through the Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies (PORES), and Karen Kim, C’21, pivoted away from medicine and toward an Africana studies major after an influential class.

The Future of Their Fields

Graduate fellowships allow students the time, energy, and stability to focus on their research. Whether in the classroom, the library, the lab, or the field, graduate students are building collaborative relationships with faculty and fellow students, mentoring undergrads, and nurturing the ideas that will make them future academic leaders. Students like Kimberly Cárdenas, who studies how race, gender, sexuality, and immigration inform Latinx political engagement and public opinion, and Drew Newman, who researches alternative energy sources that may lead to green technology, are integral members of our academic community.

Impact: Frontiers

Research Across the Arts and Sciences

Our faculty and students continually strive to advance knowledge across the liberal arts. They work with the latest technology, draw connections across disciplines, and ask innovative questions. At the frontier of knowledge, they push forward to create something new.

Creating a Sustainable Planet

Prominent faculty hires, the Vagelos Institute and the new Vagelos Laboratory for Energy Science and Technology are transforming energy research. Penn Arts & Sciences is a center for research, learning, and collaboration, drawing leading scientists and the students who will drive energy solutions in the future.

Driving Global Change

Research, conversation, and debate at the newly endowed Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy and support for student fellowships at the Center for Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration are advancing knowledge on topics that matter deeply to our world. Both centers establish a community of researchers and critical thinkers that includes faculty, students, and academics, analysts, and journalists around the world.

Harnessing the Power of the Brain

MindCORE received endowment and fellowship support, establishing itself as a hub for mind and brain research and the home of training for the next generation of scientists. MindCORE student fellows learn to pursue rigorous original research and, together with faculty from across the University, engage in interdisciplinary efforts to understand human intelligence and behavior.

Exploring the Human Experience

The newly endowed Wolf Humanities Center and Price Lab for Digital Humanities advance the liberal arts and support inquiry for faculty and students alike. They highlight the necessity of humanistic investigation and create space for cross-disciplinary conversations that deepen our understanding of history, art, and culture.