The Deans of the Graduate School of Education (GSE), School of Nursing (SON) and School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) at Penn brought their faculty together in September 2015 to imagine how, by working together, their schools could improve the health and well-being of youth and families in Philadelphia and beyond. They named this collaborative, inter-disciplinary initiative “Penn Futures” and invited proposals that would expand existing community-based academic partnerships/programs or develop cross-school community-based learning opportunities that involve all three schools.
Our proposal to prepare the next generation of professionals to better serve LGBTQ youth and families was one of three to receive funding--$15,000 over 12 months. As we imagine the possibilities for this multi-school partnership, our vision has expanded beyond the modest initial proposal to broader changes including how we train social workers, teachers, school counselors and nurses and the research opportunities we provide as an institution. We want to rethink how these three school, and the University of Pennsylvania, engage with the topics of gender and sexuality beyond professional training, as they relate to our identity and humanity. Thus our nickname, “Queering Penn’s Future.”
In this initial year (January-December 2016), we will focus on the following tasks:
• Review existing master’s-level curriculum at GSE, SON, and SP2 in order to recommend specific opportunities to integrate LGBT, gender and sexuality content into core courses;
• Identify gaps in current course listings and propose new courses as an initial step toward establishing a cross-school graduate certificate in serving LGBTQ communities.
• Develop new participatory research projects engaging LGBT youth and other community members in research relevant to their lives;
• Expand existing field training opportunities for graduate students, through summer internships and structured field placements and clinics during the school year;
• Support and train classroom instructors in better facilitating in-class dialog relating to issues of gender, gender identity, and sexuality.
Our team is made up of faculty from all three schools, students from QSP2, Nurses PUSH, and OutEd, and staff from Penn’s LGBT Center, The Attic, and CHOP’s Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic.