The University of Pennsylvania prides itself as being a center for excellence in research and education. Indeed, the numerous distinctions accredited to the University, from its top notch scholars to its numerous breakthroughs and innovations across disciplines, testify to this fact. Indeed, one would certainly expect intellectual discourse to cultivate organically within such an environment. The unfortunate reality, however, is that such occurrences are all but a rarity outside of lectures and graded seminars or recitations.
Students typically engage the material only at a level necessary for the conferral of a good grade in the class. This fosters conformity rather than ingenuity, dogmatic acceptance rather than break-through thinking. This situation also creates a certain disconnect between learning that takes place at introductory levels and that at upper levels. Specifically within the economics department, majors make decisions on what upper level elective courses to take after completing various required intermediate courses. The lack of exposure to the different subfields of economics means that these decisions are mostly based on the quality of instruction or the degree of course difficulty, rather than interest or curiosity towards the subject matter. This severely limits intellectual diversity in the field and inhibits the development of innovative research within the undergraduate community. The depravity of this situation cannot be ignored.
As a society of individuals passionate about the social sciences, the Journal Club aims to provide members with the opportunity to discuss and debate issues of relevance not only to academic pursuits here at the University, but also to current affairs and society at large. The Undergraduate Journal Club is modeled on academic journal clubs that are commonplace in many graduate schools. The purpose of these clubs is to promote awareness of recent research, and thereby help students keep abreast with new knowledge in the field as well as develop critical skills in appraising and analyzing academic literature. It is our vision that our Journal Club will serve a similar purpose for the undergraduate community at Penn.