Penn Global Awards $1.5 million in Research and Engagement Awards

April 22, 2024
By Penn Global

Penn Global has awarded $1.5 million in research and engagement awards to support 24 new projects involving faculty from nine of Penn’s Schools.

This year, faculty were invited to propose projects examining trust in institutions or technologies in a global context. The focus acknowledges the need to address growing trends of skepticism or mistrust of technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and institutions – be they political, economic, social, or cultural – particularly as they relate to questions of governance, perception, ethics, and bias.
“The Penn Global Grant Program is designed to enable faculty to address the largest global issues facing the world today,” says Associate Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Amy Gadsden. “To unpack the opportunities and challenges related to the use of technologies and institutions, you need a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary approach – and that’s what these projects offer.”
This year’s projects will focus on a wide range of topics including global medicine, artificial intelligence, sustainable development, human rights, cultural heritage and conflict, and education and economic development. A selection of this year’s grant recipients will be in attendance at Penn Global’s Grant Program Town Hall, which will take place on Thursday, May 2nd from 12 PM – 1 PM at Perry World House.
The Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program supports faculty and scholars as they create new knowledge and develop innovative solutions for global impact. The grant program also maintains a strong commitment to fostering research and equitable partnerships in key countries and regions around the world through its four funds, including the Global Engagement Fund, the China Research and Engagement Fund, the India Research and Engagement Fund, and the Holman Africa Research and Engagement Fund
Among the 24 new projects awarded this year, over half will engage Africa, collaborating with partners based in at least nine countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Rwanda, and South Africa.
“We continue to see strong interest from Penn faculty in engaging Africa," says Scott Moore, director of strategic initiatives at Penn Global. "Since the launch of the Holman Africa Fund in 2021, Penn Global has supported 20 projects and will support another 13 this year, looking at critical global issues like climate change and economic disparities.”
Among the faculty engaging Africa is Genie Birch, Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research and Education at the Weitzman School of Design. Birch’s project will focus on supporting areas that struggle to control rapid unplanned urbanization, addressing issues like climate change, land degradation, biodiversity loss, and growing economic disparities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Thabo Lenneiye, managing director of the Sustainable Agriculture Fund at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, will lead a research project focusing on the historical and contemporary practices of regenerative agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
This year, Penn Global introduced three distinct tracks to enable faculty to submit applications based on the stage of the project, ranging from new to full-scale, and the amount of funding requested. Popular this year was the Seed Grant track, through which applicants may apply for up to $15,000 to kick-start new projects. In contrast to the two other tracks for larger funding requests, Seed Grant track applications are currently not required to secure matching funds, which enables applicants to foster emerging initiatives and cultivate new partnerships.
“We welcome feedback from our applicants and volunteer peer reviewers each year to improve the grant program. Piloting the three-track application system was a direct result of integrating recent feedback,” says Chris Klaniecki, global initiatives program manager at Penn Global. “We hope the three-track application system will continue to encourage faculty to seek out the research and engagement grant program as they pursue global engagement at Penn and beyond.”
Learn more about the 2024 cohort of projects supported by the Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program.

2024 Grant Program Awardees