AboutOur Program

Our Program

Education for the 21st Century.

The SNF Paideia Program is committed to an inclusive and holistic education that integrates wellness, service, and citizenship through dialogue. Read more about our philosophy, our aspirations, our approach, and our guiding principles below.

Our Philosophy

Integrating Wellness, Service, and Citizenship through Dialogue.


Our individual and community wellness are integral to the healthy functioning of democratic society. Being attuned to our social and intellectual wellbeing shapes the way we engage as citizens in robust dialogue and the way we authentically serve our communities.  These encounters can influence individual feelings of wellbeing and the social health of the various communities of which we are a part. Attending to wellness can be a potential contributor to, outcome of, and strategy for effective dialogue, service, and active citizenship. Thoughtful, engaged citizenship calls for the integration and awareness of our whole selves to offer complex responses to the dynamic issues of our time.  For these reasons, SNF Paideia aims to integrate attention to wellness into our courses, workshops, and collaborations with students, faculty, and staff. [Wellness Video]


The practice of democratic citizenship is an integral part of service, and of individual and collective wellness. Our identities as local, national, and global citizens should be integrated into our personal and professional ones. Through its courses, public events, and collaborations with the Civic Scholars Program, the Andrea Mitchell Center, and the Fox Leadership Program, the SNF Paideia Program educates students in both the theory and practice of civic and political engagement.


A meaningful and fulfilling life is one in service to both individual and community wellness. In collaboration with the Netter Center, the SNF Paideia Program provides students with a variety of service-learning opportunities through cosponsored courses and events.


Informed, robust, and civil discourse across ideological and cultural divides is the sine qua non of individual and community wellness. It is both a form of democratic engagement in its own right, and a necessary component to effective interpersonal and public problem solving. The SNF Paideia Program provides curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students to develop the knowledge, skills, and ethical frameworks necessary to engage in meaningful dialogues across difference.

Our Aspiration

At the heart of this new program is the goal of providing Penn undergraduates with the skills, knowledge, values, and experiences necessary for engaging in civil, informed discourse with those with whom they may disagree. Our aspiration is that doing so will produce citizens and leaders who can effectively bridge social, cultural, economic, and political divides in their personal, professional, and civic lives.

headshot of Michael X. Delli Carpini
Michael X. Delli Carpini
Founding Faculty Director
Our Approach

Intersections of our personal, professional, and civic identities.

At its best, higher education prepares students for living productive and fulfilling lives, doing so in ways that integrate their personal, professional, and civic development. The SNF Paideia Program is designed to facilitate this integrated learning approach, drawing on the following guiding principles in all our work.

Guiding Principles

An Inclusive Definition of Citizenship

While the legal definitions of citizenship matter, we all have rights in and responsibilities to the various communities of which we are a part.

A Commitment to Truth Seeking

Knowledge takes various forms and resides in various groups. It is through the exchange of ideas that notions of what is and what should be emerge.

An Emphasis on the Art and Science of Public Dialogue in Civic Education and Engagement

Effective public dialogue does not just happen naturally. It requires structures conducive to it, an understanding of the theories underlying it, and opportunities to practice it.

A Belief that Theory Informs Practice and Practice Informs Theory

Learning is most effective when theory and practice occur together—that is through both scholarly and applied experiences and subsequent reflection.

An Education that Integrates Personal, Professional, and Civic Development

The distinction between our private, professional, and civic identities is problematic and artificial—we are all always family members, workers, and citizens. Our integrated approach to education sees civic engagement as a complex, layered, and interwoven system of relationships that intersect with all facets of life.

Register for classes.

Find the SNF Paideia Program designated courses on PennInTouch by choosing “Designated SNF Paideia Program Course” under the Program menu.

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