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Ideas in Action: November 23
October 24, 2006, Volume 53, No. 9

The Office of the Provost announces that applications are available for Ideas in Action, a program that provides undergraduates with research opportunities grounded in real-world, policy problems. The Fels Institute of Government will coordinate the program, providing assistance to faculty members interested in developing proposals. Applications are available from the Associate Provost, Andy Binns. To request an application form, send an e-mail to assocprv@pobox.upenn.edu with Ideas in Action in the subject line. The deadline for the Fall 2006 application cycle is Wednesday, November 23, 2006. Applications will be accepted for courses to be offered in any of the upcoming three terms: Spring 2007, Fall 2007, or Spring 2008.

Ideas in Action funds problem-based courses in any academic discipline, but courses should be concerned with policy issues or questions and must be offered at the undergraduate level. Already existing courses that have been re-worked to take advantage of Ideas in Action are eligible for funding, as are entirely new courses. The key element of an Ideas in Action course is that students conduct research and analysis under the supervision of a Penn faculty member around a project brought to the class by a leading public official or distinguished policymaker from outside the University.  The policymaker meets with the class at its outset to present them with a real-world problem and returns at the end of the semester for an in-depth briefing on students’ research findings concerning that problem. If circumstances allow, the policymaker may visit the class periodically over the course of the semester. The policymaker may be identified by the faculty member running the course or, if so requested, the Fels Institute will assist in identifying an appropriate person.

Each Ideas in Action course will be listed in the instructor’s home school, and will be cross-listed in Fels under a Fels 400 course number to provide one-stop course listing and administrative support for the courses. Fels will also support these courses with a project manager, to work with the distinguished policymaker, faculty member and students on the project and its logistics. Fels will publish students’ final reports describing the outcomes of their research on the Institute’s website and make the findings available to policy makers across the nation and around the world.

Interested 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 by contacting the Associate Provost’s office at (215) 898-7225 or assocprv@pobox.upenn.edu.

Almanac - October 24, 2006, Volume 53, No. 9