When we began the 21st Century Project a year ago, the President and I published a letter (Almanac, October 25, 1994) in which we said that Penn's undergraduate experience in the 21st Century should have certain specific characteristics. Although we have been doing extremely well in undergraduate education, it is essential to make certain changes in order to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
First, we said that we wanted this experience to be institutionally distinct. It should be easy to tell that it is a Penn undergraduate experience and not an undergraduate experience of some other institution. Second, it should be faculty-centered. It should also be intellectually-engaged. It should be research-oriented; we want our students to increase the amount of time and effort they put into research. Further, it should be residentially-integrated. The intellectual experience of a student going through Penn has a social and residential component to it; we wanted to take cognizance of that and make it an integrated part of each student's experience. We also wanted the experience to be interdisciplinary, taking advantage of the wide range of subjects at all levels--professional and graduate as well as undergraduate subjects. We wanted to be international and to introduce students to a world in which geographic boundaries are ceasing to be as important as they once were. A world in which the concept of the nation- state, especially at the level of the economy, communications and intellectual life, is fading. We need to prepare students for that.
As we worked on the 21st Century Project in the Provost's Council on the Undergraduate Experience (PCUE) last year, we constantly came back to the original question, "What are we aiming to do? What is it that we want our students to know? What is the product of this educational experience that we're talking about?"
In the PCUE report issued in May (Almanac May 25, 1995) we concluded that:
....21st century graduates of Penn should have acquired all of the attributes of the person educated for a complex, global, technological society marked by racial, ethnic, national, and cultural distinctions. Penn students should reason analytically, solve problems creatively, read with sophistication and deep understanding of complex ideas, approach information with critical discernment, comprehend and use quantitative concepts and measures, communicate with clarity and persuasion, understand modern science, and use technology in the acquisition of information and in communication. In keeping with Penn's tradition, they should gain knowledge through the experience of making and using knowledge. They should appreciate the role of knowledge in intellectual endeavors in the service of society. They should have an ethnic and cultural perspective borne of study and experience.
These are the goals. This is the kind of student, and the kind of preparation that our students ought to have for the 21st Century, and this is what the 21st Century project was aimed at doing. As we follow that up this year, what we have done is to put the PCUE's recommendations in priority order for implementation. We have set up a series of committees to deal with each of these goals.
First, we have a committee led by chairman Ponzy Lu in Chemistry that is dealing with the challenge of engaging freshmen and sophomores in research activities. We discovered as we looked at the issue of increasing the amount of research activity for undergraduates that there were many opportunities in the University in all of its schools, but that much of that opportunity was not being taken. You cannot just walk into a laboratory or into a social science project or any other kind of research activity without proper preparation. That focused our attention on how we get freshmen and sophomores involved in the research experience. We want to prepare them to participate when they are juniors and seniors in the work that faculty and graduate students and professional students are doing on the campus.
Second, a committee chaired by Dan Bogen in engineering is looking at the academic standards and models for service-oriented academic programs. These include all those courses and programs which deal with real-life problems. An excellent example is Dan Bogen's own program in Penn Toys where senior students in engineering are trying to design a series of toys for handicapped children. That is a real problem and also produces academic credit for the students. There are also numerous examples that the Center for Community Partnerships is sponsoring. This year alone about 35 courses are being taught that are based in the community and deal with community issues--real life issues. This committee will look at the models of this kind of learning, discern what it is in such a program that makes it creditable as an academic course, help faculty develop these programs and understand these models, and then we will move on to look at what our goals ought to be. We will determine how many of these kinds of courses and what kinds of programs are out there to be developed and to be supported in this context. Ultimately, we will develop a set of strategic goals in community service and service learning to develop over the next several years.
A third committee, led by Larry Friedman, is dealing with a part of a larger issue of advising. We have one group that is looking at the best practices on the campus and elsewhere in advising and gathering those together to make a report to us to lend guidance in redesigning the advising system. Another group is looking at all those ways in which electronic technology can help students maximize their access to useful information. This committee is also looking at the potential for Penn In Touch. There is the need to develop a database for all faculty research if you want to make students aware of what research opportunities there are in the University. There are information systems which provide students with information about University activities and where they can get help in solving a variety of problems.
I chair a curriculum committee which is composed of the leaders of the educational policy curriculum committees of the four schools. This committee is looking at recommendations that came out of the Provost's Council last year to develop University minors and joint majors. For example, there is a new minor in nutrition, just announced, that is a joint effort between the College and Nursing. We want to develop more of those programs and also look at the possibility of programs like Management and Technology and the International Studies Program, which we think are extremely good programs. These are all programs that involve more than one school and the ability of students to take courses and programs across school lines and school boundaries.
We have a committee that is actually a Council committee, the Com- mittee on Admissions and Financial Aid, chaired by Bob Giegengack. That committee has agreed to help us look at admissions issues. For example, how we apply the rules and principles that govern the way we choose students, and how we process applications.
We also have a group, chaired by Larry Friedman, working on a National Science Foundation project proposal tied to symbolic reasoning across the curriculum. This program would take advantage of the existence of courses in which you can teach both the subject of the course and mathematics. We are exploring a similar program in Foreign Language across the curriculum.
And finally, we are looking at ways to enhance internationalization. We are dealing with this issue in various ways. It is an important issue for us, the foreign language across the curriculum is one part of this effort, but we will concentrate more fully on the whole issue of internationalization in the spring.
The goal of internationalization is not merely to send more students abroad. If we are going to have an institution that is global and international and that trains and educates our students to think in that way, it has to happen here, because most of our students stay here throughout their four years.
What we are really going to explore is the ways in which we can take advantage of the fact that Penn has the largest percentage of foreign students in the Ivy League, that we have large numbers of international research personnel and faculty on the campus, that we live in a community with dozens and dozens of ethnic communities where the home language is not English but some other language, and where a piece of the foreign culture that is representative of that community has been preserved. We also want to explore the ways in which Penn can become international in and of itself. We will also look at the attraction of more international students, more international faculty and continue to develop our study abroad programs. I want to emphasize that the aim here is to do something that is probably not being done by very many institutions in this country that look at themselves as dedicated to internationalization.
All of these committees that I have mentioned are going to be reporting by the first of February, so they will give us reports early enough that we can start work on implementation for the fall semester of 1996.
The other major initiative that we are exploring is the residential integration I talked about earlier. We have started with a committee that is chaired by Robert Lucid from English. Under that committee there are four subcommittees that are working on four models. These will become pilot projects as they develop, and we will then test them over a number of years to see what works within them, and then take advantage of that knowledge in developing this idea in the future.
The first of these is a civic college house under the chairmanship of Peter Conn in English. It is affiliated with the existing residential program in the Castle which is a program for community service. The idea here is not merely to create more college houses, but to create collegiate organizations in which students who are living off campus can be involved along with the students who are living on campus. We want to integrate these populations of students into common human-scaled communities that are very active and provide activities and opportunities for leadership.
Second is a college model, chaired by Professor Jorge Santiago Aviles, that is based on electronic technology. It starts with the people living in King's Court, and it builds from that group of approximately 140 students to create a community which involves off- campus students who stay in touch and use the electronic medium as a way of creating and sustaining a community between on-campus and off-campus students. The aim is to develop activities and a life as a community using that technology.
The third model is a senior undergraduate research college which Will Harris is chairing, a model to encourage students to engage in senior research projects, bring students together who are doing that, again both on-campus and off-campus students, and create a kind of collaborative atmosphere for research.
The fourth concept is actually a nonresidential model so you will see that these models are somewhat different from one another. The nonresidential model is being chaired by Al Filreis. This will involve both on- and off-campus students. This model will have a theme, which is creative expression, especially writing, and it will have a hub-center on campus, a place for the people to meet and where Filreis and other faculty and staff who are involved in this collegiate model will have offices, and they will be testing the notion that you can build a community around a common interest.
So, we are beginning to develop these programs. Each of the committees is creating a plan. I hope that in 1996-97, each and every one of them will have students in them and will begin the process of testing these models and seeing how they work. We will then go from there as we learn more and more from that empirical experience.
The second committee was the Perelman Quad committee, which I chaired. It dealt with all of the public spaces including the ground floor of Logan Hall, a portion of the basement and additions to Williams Hall, and the entirety of both Houston Hall and Irvine Auditorium. The Admissions Office front door will eventually be moved so that it opens onto the Perelman Quad. It is in College Hall and is being done as part of the renovations in that building. They should be completed in 1998.
The concept behind Perelman Quad is to create a campus center full of many different kinds of spaces. In addition, the entire design is predicated on the historical preservation of the buildings involved in the project. I'd like to stress that students played a major role in bringing ideas about student needs to the committee, and students were particularly instrumental in providing the program for Houston Hall.
The plans for the ground floor of Logan Hall include a renovated, high-tech Logan 17, a student art gallery, and a multi-purpose room. The second floor will house the College. An information/security desk will also be centrally located inside of Logan.
Current plans for Williams Hall include moving Classical Studies to Logan Hall to be closer to related programs such as Religious Studies, Philosophy, and History of Sociology of Science. By retaining the language studies departments and importing the International Studies Program, Williams will become an international studies center.
In an effort to enliven the currently barren courtyard, a study lounge and cafe serving both Williams and Logan Halls will be created. The intended changes to Williams will also provide more meeting rooms and more space for student organizations.
As the centerpiece to the Perelman Quad, Houston Hall will be restored to its former glory. The Hall of Flags will become the great dining hall it once was. The ground floor will include a deli/snack bar and cafe and a "living room" for meeting and greeting. A browsing, reading, and listening area will be created in the lobby, and Bodek Lounge will become a major study center with seating and tables wired for computer usage. Bodek will retain the ability to be transformed for very special events.
The second floor will be restored, retaining much of its current layout. Student government, both GAPSA and the UA, will be housed on the second floor. The theater will be transformed into a black box theater and a passageway will be created around the theater to eliminate the current traffic problem through the theater. The second floor will include another multi-purpose room and office space for student life activities staff.
The top floor of Houston Hall will be devoted to student organizations.
Acoustical studies have demonstrated that Irvine Auditorium has the ability to be transformed into a first-class music hall. The hall will be able to be used for events with audiences from 300 to 1,300. The lobby will include a cafe, and additional lobbies will be created on the sides of Irvine to accommodate the European-style seating. An acoustically isolated rehearsal space will be located above the stage, leaving room for flying flats, although the stage is more suitable for music than for theater. Downstairs, we will build practice and rehearsal rooms of varying sizes in addition to some office space and another student activities suite. The intention is to convert Irvine into a first-class hall and make it a "living place" for student arts activities.
Everyone involved in the Perelman Quad planning and all those I have presented these plans to have been quite enthusiastic. I certainly count myself among the enthusiasts.
Tuesday, November 14, 1995
Volume 42 Number 12