“Universities have a natural tendency to relegate each problem to the province of one or another academic discipline or profession. But the most challenging problems cannot be addressed by one discipline or profession. We cannot understand the AIDS epidemic, for example, without joining the perspectives of medicine, nursing, and finance with those of biochemistry, psychology, sociology, politics, history, and literature.”—President Amy Gutmann, in her inaugural address, 2004.
Cultivating eminent, interdisciplinary faculty. The Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) program was founded in 2005 to recruit the best teacher-scholars whose transformative work crosses traditional boundaries.
The University has recruited 14 distinguished faculty members as PIK professors, generously supported by alumni gifts from George A. Weiss, W’65; Stephen J. Heyman, W’59; and Diane S. and Robert M. Levy, WG’74. Whether in applied mathematics, biomedical ethics, cultural anthropology, human genetics, race and gender issues, stem cell biology, nanoscale research, obesity, or biological criminology, these eminent faculty are addressing the most complex problems of the world today. Meet the PIK professors.
Fostering cross-disciplinary learning. Nearly one-third of Penn’s undergraduate students complete interdisciplinary degree programs, and almost half of the majors in the College of Arts and Sciences are interdisciplinary.
These programs provide educational experiences for students that allow them to apply what they've learned to real-world problems. Examples include:
- Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. Students integrate business education, advanced language training and a liberal arts education. Huntsman students receive degrees in International Studies and Economics, and specialize in the area of the world in which their target language is spoken.
- Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology. Students enrolled in the M&T Program pursue degrees from Wharton and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, creating a true interdisciplinary learning experience. This combination enables students not only to understand engineering and business concepts, but also to understand how this intersection shapes our world.
- Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management. The Vagelos program was founded with the idea that if the full benefits of science are to be realized, discoveries made at the laboratory bench must be taken to market and made accessible to society at large. Students enrolled in this program develop both scientific and managerial skills so that they become decision makers who can understand and advance scientific innovations as well as manage and promote them.
Leading with interdisciplinary discovery. Penn’s more than 160 academic centers, institutes, and programs illustrate the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary research.
In January 2012, Penn announced the creation of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China to advance Penn’s leadership in programs, research, and scholarship about the political, legal, economic, and social factors shaping China and its role in the world today.
Across the University, research centers such as The Center for Public Health Initiatives, the Penn Genome Frontier Institute, the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Pennergy, the Institute for Global Environmental Leadership, the Nano/Bio Interface Center, and the Center for Health Behavioral Research are leading the way in interdisciplinary scientific and medical research.