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Ideas in Action: March 30
February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21

The Office of the Provost announces that applications are available for Ideas in Action, a program supporting courses that provide undergraduates with research opportunities grounded in real-world policy problems. The key element of an Ideas in Action course is that students conduct research and analysis under the supervision of a Penn faculty member on a project brought to the class by a leading public official or distinguished policymaker from outside the university. The idea is to link faculty, students and community through the research enterprise. The policymaker meets with the class at its outset to present the class with a real-world problem and returns at the end of the semester for an in-depth briefing on students’ research findings.  If circumstances allow, the policymaker may visit the class periodically over the course of the semester. 

The Fels Institute provides support for each Ideas in Action course during its development, and throughout the semester.  If requested, Fels can assist in identifying an appropriate policymaker to work with the class. Each Ideas in Action course is listed in the instructor’s home school and cross-listed at Fels under a 400-level course number to provide one-stop course shopping.  In addition, Fels can lend support to Ideas in Action courses throughout the semester with a project manager to work with the instructor, distinguished policymaker and students on the project. At the conclusion of the course, Fels makes the students’ research and findings available to policymakers across the nation and around the world through the Institute’s website and other means.

Ideas in Action funds undergraduate-level courses in any academic discipline in any of the four undergraduate schools. Existing courses that have been re-worked to take advantage of the Ideas in Action concept are eligible for funding, as are entirely new courses. The program is intended for standing faculty, although a limited number of grants may be awarded to non-standing faculty. A grant of up to $5,000 is made available to each Ideas in Action course to cover the cost of bringing the distinguished policymaker to campus, for housing while here, and incidentals such as a meal with the class. 

The deadline for the current application cycle is March 30, 2007. Applications will be accepted for courses to be offered in any of the upcoming three terms: Fall 2007, Spring 2008, or Fall 2008. Applications are available from the Associate Provost, Dr. Andy Binns. To request an application form, send an e-mail to assocprv@pobox.upenn.edu with Ideas in Action in the subject line. Faculty members who wish to discuss a possible Ideas in Action course or would like assistance in preparing a proposal should contact Dr. Donald Kettl, director of the Fels Institute of Government at dkettl@sas.upenn.edu. Additional information is available at www.fels.upenn.edu/ideas-in-action.htm or by contacting the Associate Provost’s office at (215) 898-7225 or assocprv@pobox.upenn.edu.

Almanac - February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21