Penn Arts and Sciences

Funding Opportunities

Application Deadline: April 15, 2015
Application Link:

See information on past years' Summer Institutes here.

The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum is pleased to announce its third Summer Institute for Predissertation Students to be held in May and June of 2015. 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 9 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 inequality-related topics, which in past years have included 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 is 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.

During the final stage of the program, students deliver short presentations to the group on their research plans or interests going forward.

Students will receive a $1000 fellowship (which they may use to help defray travel expenses) plus housing and most 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 Wednesday, April 15, 2015 no later than 11:59pm EST. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

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: March 1, 2015.

2014 Penn SSPF Course Development Grant Winners

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.

Academic Year 2013-14 Grantees

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.

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 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.

© 2020 The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania