Penn Arts and Sciences

Funding Opportunities

Application Deadline: April 15, 2014
Application Link:

See information on last year's Summer Institute here.

The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum is pleased to announce its initial Summer Institute for Predissertation Students to be held in June of 2014. Under the leadership of SSPF Director Thomas Sugrue of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor John Skrentny of the University of California-San Diego, this program will provide opportunities for talented doctoral students in the social sciences to visit the University of Pennsylvania campus to explore research topics and scholarship related to the theme of Inequality.

Over a period of 10 days, this program will provide a mix of visiting speakers, seminars, and workshops designed to expose students in a close-knit group to cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative research on a variety of topics related to the theme, including poverty; labor force participation; income and wealth disparities; the impact of race and ethnicity; spatial dynamics; educational gaps; and social and economic policies that address inequalities.  A major goal will be to spur innovative approaches to topics of great social and academic significance and to foster interdisciplinary discussion of issues that cut across conventional social scientific boundaries.  The invited students will participate in daily workshops in a lively but informal atmosphere, building networks with fellow students and leading scholars from multiple disciplines as well as policymakers.

Students will receive a $1000 fellowship (which they may use to help defray for travel expenses) plus housing and some meals.


Applicants must be in the predissertation phase of their graduate career, prior to the defense of their dissertation proposal.  This includes students who range from having no clear idea of a dissertation topic to those who have a topic in mind, but are still working to refine their proposal.

Our goal is to bring together students from a broad mix of social science disciplines, including anthropology, economics, education, history, political science, public policy, and sociology, and related fields. We seek motivated applicants of great promise who have yet to begin their dissertations but who have already decided to pursue research related to inequality. While much of the program will focus on the United States, a comparative perspective is encouraged. The target cohort size is ten students, who will be expected to attend seminar and speaker sessions as well as workshops and social events.

Application information

To apply for the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum Summer Institute on Inequality, please submit the following materials to Interfolio here.

1. Cover sheet that includes

     Home Department
     Dates of enrollment
     Date PhD Expected
     Year in PhD Program
     Date/Expected Date of Qualifying or Field Exams
     Expected Date of Dissertation Proposal Defense

2.  Your C.V.

3.  A 500-word statement explaining probable research focus, including a description of any relevant research you have conducted thus far.

4.  Two letters of recommendation.

5.  A current transcript.


Applications are due Tuesday, April 15, 2014 no later than 11:59pm EST. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Deadline: March 31, 2014
Application Link:  

One (1) one-year Penn Social Science and Policy Forum Postdoctoral Fellowship is available for the 2014-2015 academic year for untenured scholars in the social sciences who received their Ph.D. between December 2008 and December 2013. The fellowship is open to all scholars, national and international, who meet application terms (see Qualifications below; international scholars, please note final paragraph). Complete applications, including all letters of reference, are due no later than March 31, 2014.

The programs of the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum are conceived through yearly topics that invite broad interdisciplinary collaboration. For the 2014-2015 academic year, we have set "Poverty and Opportunity" as the theme. Social scientists in any discipline (including anthropology, area studies, demography, economics, education, ethnic studies, history, international relations, political science, psychology, public policy, social policy, social work, sociology, urban planning, and related fields) are invited to submit research proposals on any aspect of this topic. The doctorate is the only eligible terminal degree.

The fellowship stipend is $50,000. Health insurance is provided for fellows but not for family and dependents. Fellows are required to be in residence during their fellowship year (September 1-May 31) and expected to participate actively in workshops and conferences.

During their year in residence, Penn Social Science and Policy Forum Postdoctoral Fellows will have the opportunity to pursue their own research as well as engage faculty across the university with common intellectual interests. Fellows are expected to participate actively in the Social Science and Policy Forum workshops and conferences, including presenting their research sometime during the Fellowship year.


The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum Postdoctoral Fellowship is open to scholars who are not yet tenured and who are no more than five years out of their doctorate. Candidates may hold a tenure-track position but may not be tenured either before or during the fellowship year.

For the 2014-2015 Fellowship, candidates must have received their doctorate between December 2008 (not before) and December 2013. You must have your degree in hand or have passed your defense no later than December 2013 to be eligible. Your application will not be considered unless this condition is met (i.e., you are ineligible to apply if you will defend or otherwise submit your dissertation anytime in 2014). The doctorate is the only terminal degree eligible (applications will not be accepted from those with JDs or terminal masters degrees).

Preference will be given to candidates whose proposals are interdisciplinary, who have not held a comparable postdoctoral fellowship elsewhere or enjoyed previous use of the resources of the University of Pennsylvania, and who would particularly benefit from and contribute to Penn's intellectual life.

US citizens and applicants who currently hold permanent resident status are eligible to apply.  International applicants must come on the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 visa) and complete the program while in J-1 status. Please note, the University does not sponsor permanent resident petitions on behalf of postdoctoral fellows. The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum reserves the right to cancel awards if the recipient is unable to meet this condition. Applicants should consult the international programs office at their current university to confirm eligibility before applying for this fellowship.

Application Instructions

Applicants should submit the following: an application letter which includes your research proposal; a CV; a writing sample (article, book chapter, or dissertation chapter); and three (3) letters of reference.

To submit the documents, go to  

Complete applications must be submitted electronically no later than 11:59pm EST, March 31, 2014. Any applications received in whole or in part after that deadline will not be accepted.

Together with the Office of the Provost, the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum is pleased to announce a competition for up to five Course Development Grants. Grants are to be used to design innovative courses in policy-relevant social science for undergraduates or graduate students. We strongly encourage proposals for courses that bridge disciplines or schools, including courses that may be cross-listed. We also encourage, where appropriate, courses that connect scholarship and policy analysis. Funds, between $2000 and $5000, will be available to successful applicants. These funds can be used for graduate and undergraduate assistants, course operations, and faculty salary.

Faculty at Penn in any of the 12 schools are eligible, and courses may be proposed for any future semester. We look to support innovations in the types of materials assigned, in classroom task design, in the format of graded assignments, as well as new team teaching, especially across schools.

Proposal Format: Proposals should be no longer than 500 words. They should outline the subject matter, the innovations planned, and the reasoning why these particular initiatives are promising. In addition, proposals should include a cover page that includes the name and departmental affiliation of the applicant, contact information (including email), and the title of the proposal. Applicants should also include a short biographical sketch, not to exceed one page and a budget specifying the proposed use of the requested funding.

Please submit applications as one single PDF to the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum at

Deadline: Extended to April 30, 2014.

2013 Penn SSPF Course Development Grant Winners

The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum is pleased to announce a competition for small grants to assist faculty members to bring policy makers to campus to present their work, discuss policy-relevant issues, and engage with undergraduate, graduate, or professional students in social science courses. Funds are restricted to reimbursable travel expenses, including transit, meals, and, if necessary, overnight accommodations. All expenses shall not exceed $500 per visit.

Faculty at Penn in any of the 12 schools are eligible to apply for funds.

Proposal Format: Proposals should include the proposed date of the visit, a short statement of how the visitor would contribute to the course (not to exceed three paragraphs), a single page CV or biographical statement describing the proposed visitor’s expertise, a breakdown of expected expenses, and a copy of the course syllabus.

Please submit applications as one single PDF to the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum at

Deadline: Applicants may apply at any time; grants will be considered on a rolling basis while funds are available.


Spring 2013 Bring a Policy Maker to Class Grantees

Laura Marie DeSimone, Associate Professor of Social Policy and Education (GSE): to bring Philadelphia public school officials, Donna M. Runner, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; Fran Newberg, Deputy Chief, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; Melanie S. Harris, Chief Information Officer; Paula R. Don, Director, Educational Technology

Johanna K.P. Greeson, Assistant Professor of Social Policy and Practice (SP2): to bring Cheri Honkala, National Coordinator of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.

Michael S. Knoll, Theodore Warner Professor of Law and Professor of Real Estate (Law and Wharton) to bring U.S. Department of Treasury international tax expert Michael McDonald.

Krista Schwarz, Assistant Professor of Finance (Wharton): to bring Joshua Frost, Vice President, Markets Group, Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 


Academic Year 2013-14 Grantees (in progress)

Malitta Engstrom, Assistant Professor of Social Policy and Practice (SP2)
and Andrew Fussner, Lecturer (SP2), to bring Connell O'Brien, Children's Policy Specialist at Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association RCPA, to the required first year course, Foundations of Social Work Practice.

Robert P. Inman, Professor of Finance, Economics, and Public Policy (Wharton) to bring Anthony Williams, former mayor of Washington, DC.

Rand Quinn, Assistant Professor of Education (GSE), to bring Albert Wat, senior analyst, National Governors' Association; Anna Brandt, advisor, Harlem Children's Zone; and Gillian Page, Coordinator, Teacher Effectiveness Strategy, Washington, DC Public Schools.

Frances Rust, Director of the Teacher Education Program (GSE) to bring Paul Kihn, Deputy Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia.

Laura Wolf-Powers, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning (School of Design) to bring David J. Fischer, Senior Director of Career and Technical Education, New York City Department of Education.

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