Carol Muller and West Philadelphia H.S. Receive Faculty-Community Partnership Award

Carol Muller, Professor of Music

Penn Provost Wendell Pritchett and Netter Center Director Ira Harkavy have named Carol Muller, Professor of Music, and her partners at West Philadelphia High School as the recipients of the 2021 Provost/Netter Center Faculty-Community Partnership Award.
Muller, who also directs the minor in jazz and popular music studies, is being recognized for her exceptional work on projects that engage Penn graduate and undergraduate students in music, arts, and wellness partnerships with the West Philadelphia/Philadelphia community through Academically Based Community Service (ABCS). She has created high-quality sustainable partnerships over the years with schools and with jazz, gospel, Islamic, and recent African diaspora communities in West Philadelphia. Since 2001, she has taught ABCS courses in ethnomusicology, working closely with many West Philadelphia partners, including Millennium Baptist Church, the Quba Institute, Second Antioch Baptist Church, the Sudanese American community in Cobbs Creek, and West Philadelphia High School. Among other benefits, the collaborative research projects involving Muller, Penn graduate and undergraduate students, and community partners have produced multiple forms of media that tell the stories of the history and evolution of jazz and gospel music in West Philadelphia.  

Herman Beavers, Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt President's Distinguished Professor of English and Africana Studies and a member of the award review committee, stated, “Dr. Muller pioneered the arts-based community service-learning course at Penn. Her ability to establish mutuality and trust is nothing short of miraculous. She approaches every community partner with reverence and respect, and perhaps most importantly, a genuine curiosity about and openness to whatever they are willing to share.”

West Philadelphia High School will be the co-recipient of the financial component of the award. $10,000 will be evenly divided between Muller and her community partners in order to further develop and expand their work together to create a therapeutically informed sustainable music technology program that can serve as a local and national model. This is a collaborative project between Penn faculty, Netter Center University-assisted community school staff, Penn undergraduates, and the teachers, administrators, Support Team for Education Project (STEP) personnel, and students at West Philadelphia High School. The project seeks to address student trauma by combining the School District of Philadelphia’s STEP behavioral health intervention with a fully equipped music technology studio as a gathering space for students to learn how to use the technology, listen to the creative work of others, collaborate, and make their own beats/words. The goal is for students to recognize the impact of trauma caused by poverty and violence, and to be given psychological and artistic resources to imagine a way into a more productive place in their lives.


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