Tradition Meets Innovation

The College of Arts Sciences is the intellectual home for disciplines, programs, and research where tradition meets innovation. Some of the most interesting faculty in the world engage with students to turn the theoretical and experimental ideas formed in the classroom into practical applications that they apply to issues facing our world. One of the benefits of being located in an urban center is that Philadelphia becomes a large, non-traditional classroom for students to explore questions of science, society, humanities and the arts. 

Community engagement is an essential part of the College’s curriculum where students might connect with real issues through a freshman seminar called Music in Urban Spaces, or an academically-based community service (ABCS) course on environmental studies that examined the number of children admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with lead poisoning, linked their findings to soil contamination in parts of West Philadelphia, and engaged with the City to address the issue. Other students connect with communities far beyond Philadelphia by studying abroad on one of a hundred programs, or doing a summer internship in government through Penn in Washington, or heading to Hollywood to learn about the film industry.

Numerous opportunities to work with faculty whose research combines areas of study at the forefront of academic inquiry also complement a traditional classroom education. Students work with these faculty members in sleep and genomics labs, in archeological fieldwork in Tuscany and Greece, on ethnographic fieldwork researching public health practice and policy in China, or food culture and personal histories in the local community. Many of our students find that the work they do outside the classroom relates back to their coursework, and these experiences certainly contribute to their growing dedication and enthusiasm for learning.

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