University of Pennsylvania Receives $6 Million for Civic Education

University of Pennsylvania Receives $6 Million for Civic Education

The University of Pennsylvania has announced a $6 million gift from the Athens-based Stavros Niarchos Foundation to launch an undergraduate program dedicated to civic education.

Designed to embody the Greek concept of paideia ("education of the whole person"), the program will offer a networking hub, internships, and interdisciplinary courses rooted in service, wellness, and citizenship, with a focus on informed civil discourse and opportunities for solutions-oriented engagement across ideological divides. In addition, a number of student leaders on campus will be selected as Paideia Fellows and will receive a more formal, structured experience. The program is set to launch in the fall of 2019 and will be built around existing programs as well as a core of twelve new interdisciplinary courses.

"Among the many aims of a great university, none is more essential than fostering the free exchange of ideas and the robust civil expression of divergent views," said UPenn president Amy Gutmann. "The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania will be dedicated to doing just that, and more. Paideia will combine courses and co-curricular activities that focus on the role of dialogue across divides in enabling students both to serve others and to thrive themselves. This charge of fostering wellness, citizenship, and service has never been more important than it is today, with social, cultural, economic, and political divides — and the inability to talk across them in constructive ways — straining the very fabric of civil society and democracy."