Penn received $6 million from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to launch a new undergraduate program that focuses on wellness, service, and citizenship, the University announced on March 14.
The new program, called the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program, will be built around a core of 12 courses taught by leading faculty across Penn’s various schools, Penn Today reported. “Paideia” is a Greek word that translates to “education of the whole person," and the SNF is an international private philanthropic organization that makes grants to nonprofits, such as colleges.
The program will begin in fall 2019, and course enrollment will be available to all Penn undergraduate students. Smaller cohorts of student leaders will take part in a more structured experience. The program’s courses will be interdisciplinary and aim to teach students to become engaged citizens.
“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," Penn President Amy Gutmann told Penn Today.
In addition to new classes, Paideia will focus on connections between existing courses and co-curricular activities that share similar goals with Paideia. These activities are designed to foster students to have productive discussions across ideological barriers.
"The concept of ‘paideia,’ of educating young people not only to become successful professionals, but also active and engaged citizens, who are part of something greater than themselves, has particular resonance today," Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president of SNF told Penn Today. "We are excited to partner with the University of Pennsylvania in helping educate citizens who will contribute to — and have faith in — fair and thriving democracy.”
SNF has established programs, as well as larger institutes, at other universities. In March 2018, the foundation established the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University with a grant of $150 million. Similar to the Paideia Program at Penn, the Agora Institute’s primary focus is civic engagement.