Penn IUR Fellows in Urban Leadership

Penn IUR Fellows in Urban Leadership

Advancing Cities, Learning from Leaders

The Penn IUR Fellows in Urban Leadership Program, open to Penn undergraduates, engages a small cohort of selected students with high-level local, regional, and national leaders drawn from government, business, and civil society to discuss public and private decision-making in urban places.  The program provides students a unique opportunity to understand cities, what it takes to run them, and how to be active contributors to their communities, regardless of their careers. 

The Penn IUR Fellows in Urban Leadership program is an initiative of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a university-wide institute dedicated to advancing urban-focused research, instruction, and civic engagement, and fostering collaboration among scholars and policymakers to inform urban policy.

As a long time urbanist, I appreciate Penn IUR’s work engaging our faculty and students interested in urban-focused research and practice. I am excited that this new Penn IUR Fellows in Urban Leadership Program will offer students a uniqe opportunity to study urban leadership and to learn, first-hand, what it takes to build inclusive and sustainable cities now and in the future.  

Wendell Pritchett, Provost; Presidential Professor of Law and Education

Why Cities?

Do you know that Philadelphia has

  • Nearly 150 neighborhoods across 143 square miles; a $4 billion General Fund budget; 3,000 miles of combined sewer pipes; 110,000 street lights; and the 8th largest school district in the U.S. 
  • Over 4 million people pass through 30th Street Station every year.
  • Committed to meeting the emissions reductions goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in June 2017, including 100% renewable municipal energy by 2035.
  • An important role in the Northeast megaregion economy, which has a GDP larger than Canada and Mexico, combined ($3.7Tn v. $2.5Tn).

And, globally

  • More than 4 billion people live in urban areas; growing to 7 billion by 2050.
  • Cities account for nearly 70% of world GDP and emit nearly 70% of the world’s CO2.
  • More than 80% of cities are vulnerable to major natural hazards like earthquakes and hurricanes.

Fellows will reckon with these issues and more as they learn about opportunities to advance the sustainable and inclusive development of urban places.

Program Objectives

  • Connect Penn undergraduates with city leaders and gain an insider view of how cities work.
  • Strengthen Penn students’ understanding of urban challenges and prepare them for leadership.
  • Increase Penn students’ civic awareness and offer  new opportunities for urban engagement.

Fellow Experience

Orientation: A session in September led by the Penn IUR co-directors and members of the Penn IUR Advisory Board.

Monthly Meetings: Meet with public and civic sector leaders from October through April to learn how they manage complex urban systems and discuss the value of civic engagement and public-private partnerships.

Reflections: The program’s wrap-up event in May to celebrate the successful completion of the program.

Selection Criteria

  • Rising junior or senior undergraduate in the 2018-2019 academic year 
  • Recommendation from a professor
  • Essay demonstrating interest and/or curiosity about urban issues including coursework or internships
  • Most recent transcript with an emphasis on academic excellent


Participation in monthly meetings with public and civic leaders, typically scheduled on Friday afternoons.

Application Process

  • Submit on-line application by June 1, 2018.
  • Selected semi-finalists will participate in a video interview call between June 1 and June 30, 2018.
  • Final notifications in July 2018.


For those Fellows who are continuing students Penn IUR also offers the Penn IUR Undergraduate Urban Research Colloquium (UURC), a program that pairs faculty mentors with undergraduates that have an interest in developing research skills in a semester-long, credit-bearing seminar.


Bring our latest initiatives, publications and events to your inbox.