After months of watching construction from the windows of 1920 Commons, Penn students will finally be able to interact with Perry World House in a few weeks. Here’s a guide to what’s coming up at the new building in the next few weeks. 

When does it formally open? 

The Perry World House will be hosting a two-day grand opening on Sept. 19 and 20. Penn students received an email invitation but the event will be open to the general public. It is free of charge and registration is required to attend. 

The first day will focus on this year’s research themes: “Global Shifts: Urbanization, Migration and Demography” and “The Future of the Global Order: Power Technology and Governance.” Experts on the topic will speak in moderated discussions about solving current policy problems relating to these themes.  



Perry World House


What important people are visiting the Perry World House? 

Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay will give a keynote address on the second day of the conference. Former United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will also attend for a conversation with President Amy Gutmann. The ceremony will conclude with a roundtable focusing on the future of United States foreign policy in the next four years. 



On Sept. 23 the center plans to host the President of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.

What will the center offer students?

The Perry World House gives students opportunities to explore international affairs and global research.

The center is designed to serve three distinct purposes on campus: offering a community for international students and students with international interests, providing a public forum for interdisciplinary education and hosting global innovations programs.



The Perry World House also hosts a co-curricular program about the process of policymaking. The program is designed to empower students to use academia to solve real world problems. Students are chosen from all schools and majors at Penn.

“This is not just open to political science and international relations majors,” Program Coordinator Laurie Jensen said. “We want to have a diverse group.”  

Students who were accepted into the program will have the opportunity to learn about policy making through seminars and events. The students will also have the chance to learn about career paths that will allow them to make global and impactful change. 

In the spring semester, the students will be given the chance to present a solution for a policy problem to a client. They will present the client with a deliverable, such as a white paper or policy brief. This allows students to potentially solve real policy problems through consultation. 

“I’ve always been interested in how to make academic research have real effect in the world,” Jensen said in regard to why she wanted to be a part of the Perry World House. She has been working with other staff members to put the Perry World House programs together since January and previously worked in the Provost’s Office for Global Initiatives.

What will happen at the center on a daily basis? 

The Perry World House is not just a space for special events and guest speakers. Policy making and global research is done at the house on a daily basis. 

The second floor of the Perry World House is used as a think tank. Researchers include visiting scholars, post-doctorate students and affiliated Penn faculty members. Here, researchers work as part of a global innovation program and use their research to discover causes and solutions to relevant policy issues.

The Perry World House has already opened to post-doctoral students who are studying policy making or doing related research.

Aaron Rock-Singer , a post-doctoral student doing research on religion and politics in the Middle East, said he enjoys the resources offered by the Perry World House. 

It’s fun to be in a new building, there’s a lot of energy here,” Rock-Singer said. “You’re in an office with people who are interested in answering policy questions.” 

Rock-Singer will work at the Perry World House with undergraduates, who he urged to visit the center so they can connect with people studying similar things that they might not find in their social niches.

As a researcher, the Perry World House provides more than just a physical place to work with others in academia. There are also unique chances to meet experts in a given field of research. 

“I really wanted to bring an expert on religion and politics in Egypt, Nathan Brown,” Rock-Singer said, “[Perry World House] facilitated me to bring someone who is significant to my field.” 

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