Collegium Institute Student Fellows Program

The Collegium Institute Student Fellows form an undergraduate intellectual community at the University of Pennsylvania committed to exploring the past, present, and future of academic learning as a whole.  Student fellows show varying degrees of interest in the meaning of the liberal arts, the promise of the research university, and the study of the intellectual tradition of Catholicism or other religions in both contexts.  All, however, seek to reflect together upon the inter-relation of knowledge across the university.  They pursue the questions that transcend the disciplines, while striving to draw wisdom from each one.  

Student Fellows of the Collegium Institute are granted a number of academic opportunities, including:

  • Special Access to the Institute’s Guest Speakers and Faculty Senior Fellows, which includes invitations each semester to join the speakers’ dinners and private receptions after Collegium Institute events.  Past lecturers have included Michael Lewis, Ann Matter, John Haldane, Christy Wampole, Wilson Goode, Robert Wuthnow, Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde, Brad Gregory and other leading intellectuals from the United States and abroad.
  • Priority Admission to the Institute’s evening non-credit seminar, Coffee with the Classics, and the gift of the classical texts that accompany it.  Student Fellows are granted the privilege of opting into the seminar without having to submit a separate application.
  • Board Membership in the Collegium Institute Student Association at Penn, which includes participation in event plotting and design, strategizing, and the direction and execution of publicity campaigns.
  • Invitation to lead the monthly Fellows’ ColloquiaThese colloquia are monthly luncheons that provide Student Fellows with leadership experience in directing the intellectual community of the Collegium Institute at Penn.  Each month a different fellow, in consultation with the Graduate Service Fellow, will have the option of (a) inviting a guest faculty member to lead a conversation on some topic relevant to the Fellows’ collective interests or (b) personally preparing and leading that conversation, or (c) workshopping some of his or her own writing or a planned research project on a theme likely to engage the other fellows (religion and the university, unity of knowledge, the liberal arts, etc.).

The Fellows Program is open to Penn students of all faiths and of none.

Undergraduates interested in applying should compose a brief essay of 300-500 words on one of the following topics:

(1) Should we have faith in the secular research university?  Explain why or why not according to one or more of the multiple senses of the question.

(2) Synthesize any thinker’s account of the relationship between faith and reason and then articulate your own understanding within the context of your studies at Penn.

(3) Why the liberal arts?

(4) How might the Catholic intellectual tradition fit in here?  Discuss proposals and expectations.

Essays will be reviewed by committee and also may be nominated for one of the $250 essay prizes.

Applications should be sent to Daniel Cheely  at  The subject should be labeled as CI Student Fellow Application.  The review process is rolling, but admission is capped, and priority will be given to applications received by Friday, September 5th.