Ira Harkavy is Associate Vice President and founding Director of the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships, University of Pennsylvania. As Director of the Netter Center since 1992, Harkavy has helped to develop academically based community service courses and participatory action research projects that involve creating university-community partnerships and university-assisted community schools in Penn's local community of West Philadelphia. Harkavy teaches in history, urban studies, and Africana studies, as well as in the Graduate School of Education.
Executive Editor of Universities and Community Schools, Dr. Harkavy has written and lectured widely on the history and current practice of urban university-community-school partnerships and strategies for integrating the university missions of research, teaching, learning, and service. His recent books include Dewey’s Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform (2007, co-authored with Lee Benson and John Puckett), Higher Education and Democratic Culture: Citizenship, Human Rights and Civic Responsibility (2007, co-edited with Josef Huber), The Obesity Culture: Strategies for Change, Public Health and University-Community Partnerships (2009, co-authored with Francis Johnston), Reimagining Democratic Societies: A New Era of Personal and Social Responsibility (2013, co-edited with Sjur Bergan and Hilligje van’t Land), and Higher Education for Democratic Innovation, (2016, co-edited with Sjur Bergan and Tony Gallagher).
Harkavy is the Chair of the National Science Foundation’s Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE); US Chair of the International Consortium on Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy; Chair of the Anchor Institutions Task Force; and a member of the Harvard College National Advisory Board for Public Service.
Among other honors, Harkavy is the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania’s Alumni Award of Merit, Campus Compact’s Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service Learning, New American Colleges and Universities’ Ernest L. Boyer Award, a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant, and two honorary degrees. Under his directorship, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships received the inaugural William T. Grant Foundation Youth Development Prize awarded by The National Academies and a Best Practices/Outstanding Achievement Award from HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research. In addition, with Harkavy’s and the Netter Center’s significant involvement, Penn has twice received the Presidential Award in Higher Education Community Service (2008 and 2012), and tied for the number one ranking as “Best Neighbor” University (2009) by the national Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships.
Harkavy received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania.