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We are pleased to present the report of the Task Force on Global Engagement. The Task Force’s recommendations will be studied carefully by us and a response will be submitted to the University community in early spring.  In the meantime, we would like to thank the members of the Task Force on Global Engagement, particularly its co-chairs, Dean Susan Fuhrman and Dean Patrick Harker, for their efforts.

–Amy Gutmann, President
–Ronald Daniels, Provost

Report of the Task Force on Global Engagement

In October 2005, President Amy Gutmann and Provost Ron Daniels convened the Task Force on Global Engagement. The Task Force was chaired by Deans Susan Fuhrman (GSE) and Patrick Harker (Wharton). Dr. JoAnn McCarthy, Assistant Provost for International Affairs, served as vice-chair.

The Task Force was charged to develop and recommend two to three initiatives that would advance the University’s international mission in teaching, research, and alumni outreach. The President and Provost stipulated that the initiatives should be affordable and capable of being implemented over a two-year period.

Over the past four months, the Task Force received input from Penn faculty, staff, and students; examined previous studies and task force recommendations; considered other institutional models; acknowledged the changing global context of higher education; and deliberated as a group on six occasions. The Task Force sought to develop initiatives that reflected the Penn Compact’s emphasis on increased access, integrated knowledge, and local and global engagement. With these principles in mind, the Task Force is respectfully recommending the following initiatives for the President’s and Provost’s consideration.

Proposal 1:  Penn World Scholars

Penn has made great strides in achieving diversity and excellence. However, there are limited funds available to assist qualified international undergraduates and master’s level students at Penn. As a result, this limits opportunities for deserving international students to attend Penn. Therefore, we should significantly enhance need-based financial aid for exceptional students from all backgrounds and from every corner of the globe, including those from the world’s most impoverished developing countries. In this way, Penn can contribute substantially to educating the next generation of global leaders across the disciplines. 

The Task Force recommends that, each year, Penn select 25-30 students of great promise from developing countries as Penn World Scholars. Chosen for their outstanding leadership potential, academic achievement, financial need, and future career plans, these students will be financially supported throughout their studies by substantial awards consistent with the most generous assistance at the University. Penn will identify outstanding scholars from a geographically, linguistically, and culturally diverse pool of students who will enhance the academic competitiveness and global diversity of our student body. Whenever possible, Penn World Scholars will be supported by Penn alumni mentors from their home countries to help acclimate them to academic life at Penn and to recommend pathways to leadership in their home countries upon graduation. We anticipate that Penn World Scholars alumni will form a high profile global network of future world leaders in a wide range of professional fields and will eventually guide the future development of the program.

We urge the President and Provost to consider this program a campaign priority to be supported by endowed funding and recommend that innovative ways to engage the global alumni network be explored and developed.

Proposal 2:  Penn Global Initiatives Fund

Penn aims to enhance and nurture the successful partnerships between arts and sciences and our professional schools that benefit our students, our society, and our world.  Indeed, outstanding examples of cross-disciplinary efforts have already been mounted at Penn, including last year’s global conference on women’s health; the new master’s program in NGO management; the rapidly growing global democracy project; and the worldwide outreach efforts of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict. 

The Task Force received nearly 50 suggestions and proposals from faculty members and graduate students across the campus involving the provision of financial support to launch new courses of study, collaborative programs, research networks, international conferences, publications, and a host of other worthy interdisciplinary endeavors that would enhance Penn’s global engagement and recognition.  We believe there is substantial demand for a special fund to support, on a competitive basis, events, projects, research collaborations, and other initiatives that focus on important global issues and involve multiple disciplines and partners. (Those partners would include institutions, government agencies, NGOs, alumni chapters and/or the private sector.)  By crossing geographic and disciplinary boundaries, these collaborations can further distinguish Penn for its successful integration of knowledge in both teaching and research.

We recommend that the President and Provost establish a fund to foster creative cross-disciplinary academic undertakings with potential for substantial and sustainable benefits to the University.  This program would respond to faculty requests for critical funding support to underwrite initiatives that would enhance our international teaching, research and engagement of an interdisciplinary nature. This competitive fund would provide short term, non-renewable financial support for promising projects.

Proposal 3:  Global Leaders Series

The Task Force recognizes that global engagement takes place not only by sending faculty and students abroad but also by bringing the world to Penn to explore the local and global dimensions of important issues.

Therefore, the Task Force recommends that the President and Provost establish a new program to bring to the campus each year two to three renowned global leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to human progress.  These distinguished speakers will be recognized global leaders in their respective fields. They will be invited to come to campus for up to one week to deliver lectures, meet with faculty and students, and be integrated into the College House programs. These global leaders may include Nobel laureates and other well-known statesmen, scholars, and professionals who have changed the world.

Proposal 4:  Penn Students Engaging the World

The importance of facilitating the global engagement of students, both on and off campus, was raised repeatedly in Task Force discussions. For some students, tightly designed curricula allow little flexibility to pursue study abroad opportunities. And, for others, the lack of financial resources presents real constraints. While other institutions in the United States have significantly increased the number of undergraduate participants in overseas experiences, few (if any) have addressed this issue at the graduate level and across all professional schools.

 The Task Force recognizes the limits of the current funding system to subsidize overseas study and international scholarly opportunities. We recommend that these opportunities be adequately funded to ensure that any Penn student who wishes to take advantage of our international offerings will not be excluded due to a lack of financial support.  To ensure that these important opportunities are available to all who want to participate, the Task Force further recommends that the President and Provost designate this as a fundraising priority. We understand that this may be more of a medium term initiative rather than a short term one but hope to signal the importance of this goal by including it in our report.


The Task Force recognizes that these recommendations are merely the first step in a more ambitious effort to establish Penn’s global presence.  Far more comprehensive strategic planning on this broader undertaking should take place in all schools at Penn.  The Task Force recommends that the Provost challenge each undergraduate and graduate/professional school to articulate how each school provides opportunities to their students to develop a global perspective in their academic programs and research.  The Provost should explicitly challenge each school to re-imagine our future and cultivate innovative ways to engage and inspire both students and faculty in the international dimensions of our teaching, research, and service missions.

Task Force on Global Engagement

Susan Fuhrman, Dean, GSE, Co-Chair

Patrick Harker, Dean, Wharton, Co-Chair

JoAnn McCarthy, Assistant Provost for International Affairs, Vice-Chair

Sandra Barnes, Professor of Anthropology, SAS

Mete Civelek, Graduate Student, First Vice Chair of GAPSA

Cheng Davis, Vice Dean, International Programs and Development, GSE

Richard Estes, Professor and Director of International Programs, SP&P

Richard Herring, Director, The Lauder Institute, Wharton

Alexis Ruby Howe, Undergraduate Student, SAS

Sampath Kannan, Professor of Computer and Information Science, SEAS

Suvir Kaul, Professor of English and Director of South Asia Studies Center, SAS

Adam Kolker, Assistant Dean, Graduate and International Programs, Law School

Leslie Kruhly, Secretary of the University

Ali Malkawi, Associate Professor of Architecture, School of Design

Barbara Medoff-Cooper, Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing

Lydie E. Moudileno, Associate Professor of Romance Languages, SAS

Jack Nagel, Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, SAS

Neal Nathanson, Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Associate Dean for Global Health Programs, School of Medicine

Ed Resovsky, Managing Director, International Operations, Development

Joseph Sun, Director of Academic Affairs, SEAS

James Gardner, Special Assistant to the President, Recorder


  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 21, February 7, 2006


February 7, 2006
Volume 52 Number 21


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