Penn Arts and Sciences Initiatives Fund Inaugural Projects

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Faculty and students are pursuing a range of new multidisciplinary initiatives thanks to two special funds that have been established by Penn Arts and Sciences. The Making a Difference in Diverse Communities program is supporting five projects that will take place on four continents, involving teams of faculty and students in coursework, research, and service initiatives focused on issues of diversity and inequality at the local, national, and international level. The Dean’s Integrative Global Inquiries Fund is supporting four new transdisciplinary projects that explore a range of global cultural, political, and economic forces.  

Projects funded through the Making a Difference in Diverse Communities program include an effort led by Professor of English and Cinema Studies Peter Decherney that will bring Penn undergraduates to a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya. There, they will collaborate with refugees to create video and virtual reality pieces. Another project will provide an advanced research experience for students to investigate the impact of poverty and migration on health, focusing on diabetes and obesity, in West Philadelphia and Guatemala. Students will also develop community health assessments and prevention and screening interventions.

The Dean’s Integrative Global Inquires Fund is supporting an initiative, led by psychology’s Martha Farah, which will examine the relevance of documented neurological impacts of childhood poverty beyond the developed world, along with ways in which the scientific knowledge may be applied to policy. 

Other Making a Difference in Diverse Communities projects include Reducing Lead Exposure: Testing a Nationally Replicable University-Municipal-Community Partnership; Community-Based Ecology in the Galapagos Archipelago; and Rising Waters, an exploration of the future of rivers and coastal cities focusing on Philadelphia and Mumbai.  

Other projects funded by the Dean’s Integrative Global Inquires Fund include Migration and Cognitive Change: Creating a Transatlantic Research Network; International Symposium on Race, Science, and Society from a Global Perspective; and Prenatal Air Pollution Exposure and Child Welfare in China.