Founded in 1992, the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships is Penn’s primary vehicle for bringing to bear the broad range of human knowledge needed to solve the complex, comprehensive, and interconnected problems of the American city so that West Philadelphia (Penn’s local geographic community), Philadelphia, the University itself, and society benefit. The Netter Center is based on three core propositions:
Penn’s future and the future of West Philadelphia/Philadelphia are intertwined.
Penn can make a significant contribution to improving the quality of life in West Philadelphia/Philadelphia.
Penn can enhance its overall mission of advancing and transmitting knowledge by helping to improve the quality of life in West Philadelphia/Philadelphia.
The Netter Center, which is housed in the Office of Government and Community Affairs, works to achieve the following objectives:
- Improve the internal coordination and collaboration of all university-wide community service programs
- Develop democratic, mutually beneficial, mutually respectful partnerships between the University and the community
Create and strengthen local, national and international networks of institutions of higher education committed to engagement with their local communities
Through the Netter Center, the University currently engages in three types of activities: academically based community service, direct traditional service, and community development. Academically based community service is at the core of the Center’s work. It is service rooted in and intrinsically linked to teaching and/or research, and encompasses problem-oriented research and teaching, as well as service learning emphasizing student and faculty reflection on the service experience. Approximately 200 courses (from a wide range of disciplines and Penn schools) have been developed to link Penn students to work in the community, with 60-65 offered each year. (A steady increase in the number of academically based community service has occurred since 1992 when only four such courses were offered.)