Service and learning go together across campus

Undergraduates at Penn do it. Of course, the educators and social workers do it. Even the doctors, lawyers and vets with pets do it. Community service participation is the common thread that runs through all 12 schools of the University of Pennsylvania.

Here are some snapshots of what some of the schools are doing and information on how to learn more about their projects.

Annenberg School

The three-year-old Student Voices national civic education project, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, brings the study of local government, policy issues and the political process alive for high school students by examining not only the who but the what and why of government.

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Graduate School of Education (GSE)

The Penn Alexander School is not only a key link in Penn’s strategy to attract families to University City—it is a laboratory for GSE students and faculty who work closely with individual teachers on research projects and get real-world experience that can be applied to education issues nationally.

Law School

The Law School’s nationally renowned Public Service Program annually places nearly 600 law students at non-profit organizations, legal services agencies and pro bono law firms nationwide. Among the Student Law Poverty Project programs currently drawing volunteers are custody and immigration clinics,the Guild Food Stamp Clinic and the IRS Income Tax Assistance Program.

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School of Design

The future of Penn’s Landing was discussed in four high-profile public forums organized by PennPraxis, a legal services-style program that tackles design programs with both educational and community service value.


The award for long-distance community service contribution goes to engineering students who, for the second year, volunteered on projects in Ghana. In August, working alongside students and staff from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale, they developed and installed a simple information infrastructure at UDS as well as a community technology center.

Social Work and Veterinary Medicine

For more than 20 years, these two schools have worked on projects together through the Vet School’s Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society. One new program, “Kids Caring for Pets,” teaches West Philadelphia school children about adopting and caring for animals.

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Trust Wharton undergraduates to balance doing well while doing good. The Wharton Council—the school’s student government—sponsors a program combining mentoring with golf lessons at Veterans Stadium to create an urban youth program that scores a hole in one.

Health Care Programs

Health-related initiatives of note include the School of Medicine’s student-run United Community Clinics Project, which provides free basic medical care, referrals and counseling to residents of West Philadelphia; PENNSmiles, a joint program of the School of Dental Medicine and the School District of Philadelphia that provides oral health education, screening and referrals for children, their families and school personnel in 41 West Philadelphia schools, and the opening of a second School of Nursing-sponsored LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) center to provide quality day care for the frail elderly in our community.

Civic House

Students active in this community service and learning collaborative value both advocacy and evaluation. For the past two years, students have examined diversity issues related to race, gender, socioeconomics and sexual orientation that impact community service efforts.

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Originally published on September 4, 2003