The Beta Tau chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha at Penn has implemented a new initiative at the suggestion of the student executive board, which has established a lunch chat series with the faculty members of the department. Once a month, six times throughout the academic year, the PSA board will organize a “lunch and learn” series with Political Science faculty to hear about that faculty member’s research and for Political Science students to get to know each other. At each lunch chat, the faculty member would provide an informal overview of the current research he or she conducts, followed by an opportunity for students to ask questions about the professor’s research.
This project is borne of two desires: first, to build a stronger undergraduate community of Political Science majors at Penn, and second, to introduce a new academic focus and encourage undergraduate research. We believe this lunch chat series can accomplish the first goal of fostering connections amongst undergraduates by providing a monthly opportunity to meet other students. In addition, we feel that the lunch chat series can help underclassmen understand the research process and connect with faculty members who share their interests and may be willing to supervise their research or hire them as research assistants. In the event that we cannot find a professor for a month, we would like to organize an alumni event or peer mentorship session around internships, career opportunities, or current political events.
We also hope to achieve these goals through a panel on Political Science research, informal study hours during finals for the major intro-level courses, and the continuation of our Political Science mentorship program, which was a major success this year. While we are not requesting funding for any of these activities, we particularly want to build off the success of the mentorship program last year by giving more outlets for undergraduates to come together and establish a community through these lunch chats. Overall, we hope to achieve our goals of fostering undergraduate relationships and research through these programs.