The Penn Civic Scholars Program provides a select group of undergraduate students with a sustained four-year experience integrating community engagement and scholarship. Among other activities, the program involves participating in a specially designed seminar, civic engagement experiences with Civic House community partners, and intentional community-building activities to bring together students from each yearly cohort and across classes. Building on their community experiences and individual academic paths, Civic Scholars together explore social justice issues through a variety of lenses, connected to Civic House’s Social Justice Framework.
Among other hallmarks of the program, the Civic Scholars experience includes close staff and faculty mentorship throughout students’ undergraduate years. This provides a unique opportunity for students’ connection to and support from Civic Scholars’ leadership and other faculty and staff engaged with the program. It also offers guidance toward the Capstone Project through which students have an opportunity to examine and share a topic related to their community engagement and academic work, ideally in support of a community partner with whom they have worked.
There are now approximately 150 Civic Scholars in the Penn alumni community. Upon graduation, Civic Scholars inform their professional pursuits with the engagement and research they undertake at Penn, bringing their perspectives and skills to bear on areas as diverse as public education, nonprofit organizations, federal government service, management consulting, higher education, law, and medicine. Several Civic Scholars have received post-graduate fellowships, including Marshall, Thouron, Gates, and Fulbright honors. Their career paths similarly vary but are linked by a shared sense of responsibility to be of service to their communities and the broader world.