Penn Arts & Sciences

The University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences forms the foundation of the scholarly excellence that has established Penn as one of the world's leading research universities. We teach students across all 12 Penn schools, and our academic departments span the reach from anthropology and biology to sociology and South Asian studies.

Members of the Penn Arts & Sciences faculty are leaders in creating new knowledge in their disciplines and are engaged in nearly every area of interdisciplinary innovation. They are regularly recognized with academia's highest honors, including membership in prestigious societies like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as significant prizes such as MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships.

The educational experience offered by Penn Arts & Sciences is likewise recognized for its excellence. The School's three educational divisions fulfill different missions, united by a broader commitment to providing our students with an unrivaled education in the liberal arts. The College of Arts and Sciences is the academic home of the majority of Penn undergraduates and provides 60 percent of the courses taken by students in Penn's undergraduate professional schools. The Graduate Division offers doctoral training to over 1,300 candidates in more than 30 graduate programs. And the College of Liberal and Professional Studies provides a range of educational opportunities for lifelong learners and working professionals.


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Now showing 1 - 10 of 335
  • Publication
    Do the Right Thing: But Only If Others Do So
    (2009-04-01) Bicchieri, Cristina; Xiao, Erte
    Social norms play an important role in individual decision making. We argue that two different expectations influence our choice to obey a norm: what we expect others to do (empirical expectations) and what we believe others think we ought to do (normative expectations). Little is known about the relative importance of these two types of expectation in individuals' decisions, an issue that is particularly important when normative and empirical expectations are in conflict (e.g., systemic corruption, high crime cities). In this paper, we report data from Dictator game experiments where we exogenously manipulate dictators' expectations in the direction of either selfishness or fairness. When normative and empirical expectations are in conflict, we find that empirical expectations about other dictators' choices significantly predict a dictator's own choice. However, dictators' expectations regarding what other dictators think ought to be done do not have a significant impact on their decisions after controlling for empirical expectations. Our findings about the crucial influence of empirical expectations are important for designing institutions or policies aimed at discouraging undesirable behavior.
  • Publication
    Strengths Building, Resilience, and the Bible: A Story-Based Curriculum for Adolescents Around the World
    (2014-01-01) McDaniel Seale, Dana
    Depression is the leading cause of illness and disability in adolescents worldwide. Resilience training, founded on principles of positive psychology, is correlated with lower depression and substance misuse in U.S. adolescents and military personnel. However, resilience training has focused primarily on secular interventions using western material. Religion is strongly correlated with lower depression and also with well-being in developing countries. Ninety percent of adolescents live in developing countries, and at least two-thirds are oral learners who prefer learning through stories and drama. This paper proposes a Bible story based curriculum that trains students in problem solving skills, character strengths, and both spiritual and secular research-tested principles for resilience and well-being. The Bible is available by audio recording in 751 languages and offers a broad base of archetypal stories for teaching resilience. The program is easily reproducible, culturally adaptable, respectful of all religions, and specifically crafted for oral learners. Through audio recordings to maintain fidelity, train the trainer programs for dissemination and support of national and community leaders, the proposed curriculum for Global Resilience Oral Workshops (GROW) has potential to lower depression and lift well-being in adolescents around the world.
  • Publication
    Creative Problem Solving as a Positive Intervention and Approach to Career Development
    (2018-01-01) DelPrato, Laura J
    Every year, over 19 million college students in the United States face big decisions like choosing a major, securing an internship, and deciding their next steps after graduation (National Center for Education Statistics, 2018). With rapid advancements in the world of work, there are many emerging environmental factors that make these decisions complex and challenging (Callanan, Perri, & Tomkowicz, 2017). This paper explores how positive psychology and creative problem solving research can support students as they make career-related decisions and design their lives. Advancements in positive psychology build a foundation of research that supports work as a pathway to flourishing. Accordingly, research in career development theory investigates approaches that better align with the current student experience and evolving world of work. In particular, research suggests that the Creative Problem Solving process (Creative Education Foundation, 2016) cultivates flourishing and could serve as a positive career development intervention. Future directions for research include conducting empirical studies on the relationship between the Creative Problem Solving process, well-being, and career development.
  • Publication
    Post-Acquisition Acculturation Study - A Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Experience
    (2017-01-25) Panicker, Sanjeev
    This capstone is a post-acquisition acculturation qualitative research study. Four diverse acquisitions of small to medium sized enterprise were studied post facto to understand the socio-cultural implications of acculturation and stress on employees pre-, during and post-acquisition process. The study suggests ways to explain and analyze the phenomenon. The study then delves into stress implications and coping mechanics during acculturation. Finally, the capstone study recommends an adapted framework to manage the socialization needs of acculturation to reduce stress and support synergies.
  • Publication
    Total Fitness
    (2010-01-01) Tolmachoff, Mark
    Total Fitness is a course of instruction designed to provide participants with evidence-based approaches and tools for improving well-being in each of five domains of health: emotional, social, family, physical, and spiritual. It is based heavily on positive psychology concepts, research, and empirically supported interventions. The twelve two-hour lessons focus on building positive attributes and psychological resources, such as character strengths, self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, and strong social connections. Each lesson provides practical skills or activities participants can use in their daily lives. They are accompanied with enough theory and scientific background to establish credibility and evidence that the applications, when practiced, will lead to meaningful change. Upon completion, participants should experience greater personal well-being and have the knowledge and confidence to help improve the well-being of their families and their military organizations.
  • Publication
    Building Resilience in MBA Students: Bouncing Back and Forward through Challenges
    (2017-01-01) Marinova, Denitsa
    The raison d'être for MBA programs is to prepare students to lead and manage effectively in the real world. An overview of the unique challenges awaiting MBAs, however, reveals a blind spot in business education: It doesn’t necessarily prepare MBA students to operate effectively in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world of today. This paper suggests that resilience training can help fill the void by enhancing the capacity of MBAs to bounce back and forward through and despite adversity. The objective of the paper is to propose a conceptual design of an evidence-based, relevant, and applicable Resilience Training Program for MBA students, building on research and practice in positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship. The proposed program seeks to enhance MBAs’ individual resilience from a 3-dimensional perspective of protecting, promoting, and sustaining mental health and well-being. Topics covered in the program include emotion regulation, cognitive flexibility, optimism, hope, positive emotions, character strengths, positive relationships, meaning-making, high-quality connections, and job crafting. Each of these topics is examined through a review of relevant research, practical implications, and specific interventions for building and strengthening related skills. This paper will hopefully serve MBA students and their business schools in shaping resilient leaders of the future.
  • Publication
    "Yes And": Exploring and Heightening the Positive Psychology in Improvisation
    (2020-08-15) Elam, Bridget Erica
    This capstone contains a brief introduction to positive psychology and the art of improvisation, including a review of the literature that supports improvisation’s potential well-being effects. Also included in this capstone is a description of an exploratory study on improvisation and well-being. In this study, positive and negative affect, resilience, loneliness, and perceived life satisfaction was measured among a group of actors and improvisers from all over the United States. The study also features qualitative data, collected from the same participants, coded for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment (PERMA) in order to consider whether working without a script offered flourishing outcomes distinct from general participation in theatre. Quantitative analysis revealed that life satisfaction scores among actors was significantly higher than those of improvisers, however the elements of PERMA showed up more frequently in the qualitative data collected from improvisers, with positive relationships mentioned significantly more often. Findings suggest that while improvisers may have a lower sense of life satisfaction, they experience more positive emotion, engagement, sense of accomplishment than actors and the study of improvisation has considerable positive effects on their relationships onstage and off. Implications for the creation of a new branch of the Positive Humanities, “Positive Improvisation,” are discussed, as well as suggestions for how to make traditional improvisation more intentionally positive.
  • Publication
    Making Our Time Together Count: How to Use Workshops to Increase Well-Being through Connection
    (2019-08-09) Kastner, Sydney
    This Capstone explores how well-being can be increased through creating conditions for connection in workshop experiences. It begins with an overview of workshops followed by a literature review of the general field of positive psychology and two specific elements of social connection: belonging and mattering as well as short-term positive connections. It details these areas as well as their corresponding benefits for well-being both generally and inside of workshops, specifically. Finally, the Appendix: Fostering Connection in Workshops to Increase Well-Being, outlines research-based suggestions workshop facilitators can use to put this information into action. These resources are provided with the intention of fostering well-being in workshops through creating opportunities for participants to connect in the moment as well as arming participants with tools to use in their own workshops and lives. This translation of research into practical suggestions for workshop facilitators should elevate facilitators’ practice by both giving them new ideas to incorporate as well as by backing their existing practices with research.
  • Publication
    So Others May Live: Enhancing Resilience and Performance for United States Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Candidates to Help Close the AST Body-to-Billet Gap
    (2018-01-01) Glaser-Reich, Joseph E
    The Coast Guard is facing a shortage of entry-level Aviation Survival Technicians, more commonly known as helicopter rescue swimmers, due to high attrition from the training pipeline. Stretching thin a workforce which operates under some of the worst conditions on the planet is a recipe for injury or even loss of life. Positive and performance psychology offer tools to enhance candidates’ performance and resilience in this high-stress environment to enable them to meet rigorous graduation standards. Informed by the military’s recent focus on building resilience, traditional psychological skills training (PST) and mindfulness training (MT) offer empirically-grounded instructional paradigms to help address this shortfall of rescue swimmers. Situating PST and MT in the stress exposure training cycle already employed in many military settings offers a contextually relevant framework for applying these interventions. Specifically, I propose incorporating PST and MT into existing training in three places: 1) PREP, the five-day candidate preparatory program, 2) the web-based information portal for candidates, and 3) specific portions of the school. Introducing this targeted mental training as part of the rescue swimmer training pipeline should help increase graduation rates and produce more candidates prepared to live the rescue swimmer motto, “so others may live.”