General News

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program Announces Inaugural Fellows

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania announced its first class of undergraduate fellows with the acceptance of 20 students, The Daily Pennsylvanian (DP) reported on June 4. SNF Paideia Fellows are a select group of undergraduate students committed to developing the knowledge, skills, and values needed for effective, ethical, and civil dialogue in a diverse world.

According to the Program’s news release, beginning sophomore year, SNF Paideia Fellows integrate wellness, service, citizenship, and dialogue through a combination of academic courses, co-curricular events, and hands-on leadership experiences. Fellowships encourage and support students’ ability to connect their public roles as community members with their academic, personal, and professional lives in healthy, sustainable, and fulfilling ways. The SNF Paideia Fellows program creates opportunities for students to practice robust and respectful civil dialogue with others across a wide range of political, social, and cultural differences. Fellows also cultivate practices that enable them to make effective contributions to the local, national, and global communities of which they are a part.  

Paideia Director Michael Delli Carpini told DP that “he hopes the fellows will acquire the skills necessary ‘to be a good participant and facilitator of dialogue.’”

Among the incoming Paideia Fellows is Odyssia Sifounaki, Class of ’23, from Athens, Greece, who, according to the Program’s news release, “brings a global perspective and fluency in numerous languages to her interest in civic engagement. Odyssia is involved in the Climate Reality Action Fund on campus and hopes that as an SNF Paideia Fellow she can also build on her previous work developing a Corporate Social Responsibility project that employed industry resources to address adolescent mental health.”

Avery Johnston, another incoming Paideia Fellow told DP that she “learned about the Paideia program through a class taught by Professor Delli Carpini that she took her freshman year,” adding that “some of the main aspects of the [Paideia] program are focused on education of the whole individual and service for the community, as well as fostering civil debate and civic dialogue. Those are three things I’ve always been interested in.”

The SNF Paideia Program also offers many interdisciplinary courses open to all undergraduates, DP reported, adding that “Paideia-designated courses include Grit Lab, a psychology class that teaches students how to set and achieve long term goals, and Rhetoric and the Community, which helps students develop their speaking skills.”

The SNF Paideia Program was established last year following the SNF donation of $6 million to the University of Pennsylvania, DP reported, adding that the program “is built around a core of 12 courses taught by leading faculty across many departments.”

Delli Carpini told DP that “we are hoping that we can act as a kind of hub so that we can leverage all the good work that’s already going on, and try to coordinate it a little more so that we can be a catalyst for making the culture at Penn more infused with this idea that one of the reasons you come to Penn is the opportunity to engage in civil and robust ways on issues of difference.”


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