We all come to the University of Pennsylvania from different backgrounds, interests, goals, and experiences, but there’s one thing we all share in our coming here: we want to receive a Penn education. This often means research, access to cutting edge professors, a challenging yet rewarding suite of coursework, an endless array of things to study. At the same time, our Penn education can be full of roadblocks and disappointments; when we arrive here, we are faced with a million opportunities, but also the fact that everything we were promised upon admission to our university isn’t always fulfilled. Criticism and changemaking can be the greatest act of love — we ask for change in our community because we want it to be the best that it can be.
The Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, or SCUE, was the first branch of student government at Penn. Founded in 1965, we were created as a merger between the men’s and women’s student governments, which led to the full integration of the men’s and women’s colleges at Penn in 1974. The effort was spearheaded by Judith Rodin (C ‘66), who would go on to be President of the University. Today, SCUE serves as the education policy branch of student government, acting as advocates for student interests and advisors to faculty and administration in revising education policy.
We’ve spearheaded projects from Take Your Professor to Lunch to the development of Penn Course Review, and have influenced administrative decisions like the extension of pass/fail grading during the pandemic, revamp of Penn InTouch to Path@Penn, and the creation of Fall Break. Every year, we publish the Roadmap to Penn, and have a publication history that encompasses many other aspects of undergraduate education, including our Roadmap to Research, Wellness Bright Paper, Analysis of Holistic Education, and assessment of Penn’s Half-Credit Course offerings.
Recently, SCUE has worked on the Bridge to Math Program, developing a marginalized communities studies program, increasing civic engagement, improving advising, and creating TA and professor wellness training programs, among others.
Additionally, every five years, SCUE publishes our White Paper, composed of research on student initiatives, an audit of the current state of undergraduate education at Penn, and proposed solutions and changes to resolve problems at Penn. It’s addressed to the president of the University and is circulated widely among administration and faculty, becoming a touchpoint for the development and revision of education policy at Penn for the next five years. We published our most recent White Paper in 2020, and are currently in the process of planning and conducting preliminary research for our 2025 publication.
Since the pandemic, many of SCUE’s initiatives have been disrupted; with the constantly evolving educational landscape in response to the pandemic, change and advocacy became reactionary rather than progressive. This week, SCUE is re-launching our first Education Week since the Fall of 2019 as we as a Penn community transition out of the pandemic and ask ourselves what we want the future of our education to be. With President Liz Magill’s inauguration at the end of this week, we are entering a new era of education at Penn — this gives us a unique opportunity to ask for the changes we want to see and play a vital role in shaping the future of our school.
All this being said, SCUE cannot advocate for the student voice without your feedback; we want to focus our energies on projects that are important to the student body. If there’s something you want to see change or improve in your Penn education, we want to hear it. However, that requires speaking up and getting engaged — it’s up to us as students to take charge of our education at Penn.
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the extracurriculars, social life, networking, pre-professionalism, and everything else that colors our undergraduate lives at Penn, it's important to remember that we’re all here for one reason: cutting-edge education. This week (as well as every week) SCUE asks you to reflect on what undergraduate education means to you and speak up about what you want to see grow and change in your education at Penn.
This week, find SCUE on Locust and tell us about your favorite class you’ve taken here, or the best professor you’ve had and what they’ve done to make your Penn education special. Or, share your frustrations, the things you want to challenge or see uprooted within undergraduate education. The SCUE website contains a live feedback form where you can communicate with us the initiatives you’d like to see and issues you’d like to see brought to the table in conversations with administrators. You can also find live surveys for our various projects to provide direct feedback about your undergraduate education experience. We’ll also be holding events, including a study break on Monday night, an ABCS Panel co-hosted by the Netter Center, Wellness Community Conversation, and Bridge to Math Study Hall. You can see the full schedule here.
Our education at Penn is incredibly valuable, one of the best in the world. But with that comes a demand for accountability for the promise of what our education could be, and advocacy for what we as students believe it should be. This week, join SCUE in standing up for your vision of undergraduate education at Penn.
The Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE) is the education policy branch of Penn Student Government whose mission is to improve undergraduate education at Penn. You can contact the SCUE Steering Committee at email@example.com.