RECAP: Penn Impact Lab

Eliza Halpin
June 10, 2019
Programs & Research

This past May, 26 University of Pennsylvania students coming from both undergraduate and graduate programs and a variety of fields at Penn convened at the Schoodic Institute on the Schoodic Peninsula at Acadia National Park in Maine. During the five day intensive program, the emerging student leaders delved into design thinking for social innovation, entrepreneurship training, and organizational leadership skills.

The Penn Impact Lab introduced students to social innovation and the concepts and practices of social entrepreneurship. Before arriving to the offsite location, the students learned the tools used to analyze the key aspects of a social venture. They completed drafts of logic models, customer journey maps, competitive landscapes, and stakeholder segmentation matrix  for a social organization at Acadia.

Upon arrival at the Schoodic Institute, the students met their PAKS, or small groups, and set their intentions for the week.

The students began their time by crafting their “Most Important Sentence.” From there, throughout the week, the students dove into a variety of  educational workshops including workshops on storytelling, design thinking, and Life Lab.

The programming included community building activities such as a rope corral, blanket fort, and embarrassing stories tonight. The students were also given the chance to work together to put on a variety show for their final night at Acadia.

During their time at Acadia, the students completed community service with the scientists at Schoodic where they prototyped some volunteer-led research that the Schoodic Institute is interested in doing with community members. The students were trained by the Schoodic staff and interns to catalog different types of seaweed, identify and log bird activity on the coastline, and catalog types of flora moving inland from the rocky coast.

They also had the chance to listen to a presentation by Nick Fisichelli, the interim president and CEO of the Schoodic Institute.

The students were encouraged during their free time to appreciate the natural beauty of Acadia National Park. They had the opportunity to stargaze, go on a puffin cruise, and watch the sunset at Schoodic Point.

Penn Impact Lab is part of the course NPLD 585 at the University of Pennsylvania. Interested students should look for this course in their spring 2020 course catalogue and can email with questions.