The University of Pennsylvania announced a $13 million grant to support the continued growth of Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Paideia Program of the program’s namesake. Since its inception in 2019, SNF Paideia has experienced strong student demand and exponential growth of its program focused on individual and community well-being, service and citizenship.
The new grant, spanning 2024-2029, allows SNF Paideia to continue to equip undergraduate students with the knowledge and experiences needed to foster robust, informed and respectful dialogue across differences.
“A thriving society needs broadly educated, service-minded leaders who openly express their views, listen to others respectfully, and disagree productively,” said Liz Magill, President of Penn. “We are deeply grateful for the continued support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which strengthens the opportunities for Penn students to hone and practice these essential skills.”
The program design provides a cohort of students with a structured, immersive experience, while providing an ever-increasing number of students, faculty, and the broader community with myriad opportunities to practice civic engagement and civil discourse in various contexts.
“We tend to think of education primarily as a means of personal development, but SNF Paideia offers a model of how, by developing habits of civic engagement and civil discourse, it can lay the foundations for thriving communities, healthy democracies and civil societies on a global scale. great,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president of the SNF. “The keen interest that young people have shown in this vision of engaged citizenship is a source of optimism about our shared future, and we congratulate the SNF Paideia team for the incredible growth that has made the program’s resources accessible to more and more members of the Penn community. »
Named after the Greek word “Paideia” which loosely means “education of the whole person,” SNF Paideia is designed to integrate students’ civic identity development into their personal and professional identities.
“Ancient Greek thought emphasized the importance of civic engagement as a fundamental duty of citizens to actively participate in the governance, well-being and cultural life of their city-states,” said Sigal Ben Porath, educational director of the SNF Paideia program at Penn. “We seek to provide a 21st century version of these ideals, to help students understand how their individual well-being is inseparable from the well-being of their community. Thanks to the wonderful generosity of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Penn is able to continue and expand important programs that teach students how to become better citizens and, in turn, support improved civic health and well-being across the world.
The program offers four main elements that address divergent perspectives on pressing issues facing the nation and global community: courses; an undergraduate scholarship; extracurricular forums and events; and inter-campus collaborations. An average of 30 courses per academic year includes courses such as democracy and disagreement; Political empathy and deliberative democracy; and Good Talk: the purpose, practice and representation of dialogue across differences. In total, nearly 3,000 students have enrolled in at least one SNF Paideia-designated course since the program launched.
“In our first five years, we have seen remarkable results as students have embraced dialogue across differences,” said Lea Anderson, executive director of the SNF Paideia program. “Extending SNF funding will allow us to expand our reach and offer more immersive experiences to an even wider circle of students, faculty and the Penn community at large.”
Four cohorts of SNF Paideia Fellows total nearly 80 students so far. Undergraduates apply to become a fellow in the spring of their first year at Penn and, if selected, begin the fellowship in the fall of their second year. With support from the SNF, fellows are able to carry out a wide variety of projects integrating aspects of civic engagement and civil discourse, including internships with the National Institutes of Health and UN Watch, and research on topics ranging from civil rights in the American South to mediating land governance conflicts in Uganda.
During the 2022-23 academic year, the program sponsored or co-sponsored more than 70 events attracting nearly 2,500 participants. Workshops, Community of Practice roundtables, and other events featured conversations with figures working across divides, such as former intelligence officer and Republican U.S. Congressman Will Hurd; New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and New York Times correspondent Jamelle Bouie; and Rhonda V. Magee, internationally renowned mindfulness teacher and speaker.
Since 2019, SNF has provided just over $20 million in grants to the SNF Paideia program at Penn.