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Public Policy and Social Impact

With its stellar array of faculty, students, departments, programs, and centers engaged in research on social issues, Penn Arts & Sciences has tremendous potential to contribute expert knowledge and recommendations in matters of public policy.

Our strategic plan outlines several initiatives to build upon our policy-relevant activities and increase influence in policy spheres.


Associate Professor of Criminology Emily Owens explains in a 60-Second Lecture “Why the Revolution Will Be Evidence-Based.”


In March, the Fels Institute of Government hosted the Fourth Annual Public Policy Challenge National Invitational at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. This competition, the first of its kind in the country, challenges teams of students with a passion for public service to develop a solution for a public policy issue of their choosing and pitch it before a panel of judges. Georgia's team (fem)me was awarded the first-place prize of $10,000 for their plan to help combat the chronic lack of feminine hygiene materials available to homeless women, as well as the taboo surrounding the discussion of menstruation and feminine hygiene in general. Runner-up team Schoogle, the winner of the the Penn Public Policy Challenge earlier this month, seeks to address asset management and procurement redundancies in the School District of Philadelphia by introducing a mobile application that would allow school principals to better track their schools’ inventory.


An innovative new program at Penn Arts and Sciences is working to enhance understanding of political outcomes in the U.S. while also offering Penn undergraduates an unparalleled opportunity for hands-on learning about opinion theory and research.

The Penn Program for Opinion Research and Election Studies – or PORES – offers courses and undergraduate research fellowships that involve students in projects ranging from analyses of exit polls to changes in voting rules over time. Students have even worked at NBC News on election day, thanks to PORES founding director John Lapinsky’s role as Director of their Elections Unit.