Penn Graduate Student Center

Penn Theme

About Penn Theme

Each year, the Penn Provost’s office sponsors a series of events around a theme chosen by faculty, staff and students.  Past themes have included: Evolution, Water, Games, Sound, and Health

2015-16 is the Year of Discovery. Discoveries can be personal or more wide-ranging, the result of planned research toward an expected goal, or more spontaneous and serendipitous. Small discoveries occur every day; larger ones may take centuries. Discovery itself is a vital part of the human experience and of the collective processes of education and intellectual growth. Join us for events devoted to this fascinating topic. And let us know if you have ideas for events related to Discovery during the year!

Discover Penn

Discover Penn is an ongoing programming series dedicated to exposing Penn graduate students to the many exciting events going on here at Penn.

The "Next Week Today" series highlights a Penn event happening in the upcoming week. Updated every Thursday.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Penn panel and reception

Thursday, February 25, 2016, 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Common Room Back (1st Fl), Grad Center, 3615 Locust Walk

Learn how to turn your ideas into reality at the first ever Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Penn workshop. Hear from Penn resource centers that support student innovations and from alumni entrepreneurs about their experiences launching a business.

Our speakers include:

  • Laurie Actman, Chief Operating Officer, Penn Center for Innovation
  • Carolina Garzon Mrad, Design Strategist, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation
  • Samantha Caby, Director, PennApps
  • Tom Anderson, Grad SAS '15, Co-founder of NativeTalk
  • Danny Cabrera, Engineering '14, Co-founder of BioBots
  • Dave Fine, SAS '11, Founder of Schmear It
  • Josh White, Grad Wharton '13, Co-founder and Owner, White & Wong + Swiss Haus Bakery

Ask questions during the panel discussion and network during the reception, which will feature local beer & wine, and catering by local Penn alumni businesses Schmear It & Swiss Haus Bakery.

This event is FREE to graduate students, but sign up early as space is limited.

Please contact with any questions.

Year of Discovery

Year of Discovery Art Exhibition Opening Reception

Thursday, February 11, 2016, 05:30 PM - 06:30 PM
Common Room Front (1st Fl), Grad Center, 3615 Locust Walk

Please join us to celebrate the artists displaying their work at the Graduate Student Center's Year of Discovery Art Exhibition Opening Reception! This catered event, which will be held from 5:30-6:30pm in the GSC, will also serve beer and wine to those 21+ with proper identification.

For more information, please email

Black History Month Movie Night: Dear White People

Thursday, February 18, 2016, 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM
Common Room Back (1st Fl), Grad Center, 3615 Locust Walk

This comedy movie is a social satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where controversy breaks out over a popular but offensive black-face party thrown by white students. The film explores racial identity in acutely-not-post-racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one's unique path in the world. The screening will be followed by a short discussion. 

Dinner and drinks will be provided. Please be sure to register in advance! 

Discover Greater Philadelphia: Day Tour to Doylestown (Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle)

Saturday, March 26, 2016, 09:30 AM - 05:00 PM
Price: $20 each, limit 2 per Graduate Penn Card


Join us in this day tour to Doylestown, a spectacular place that's home to magnificent castles, unique museums and one-of-a-kind pieces of American history!

We will firstly visit Fonthill Castle, the home of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian, Mercer built Fonthill both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. Fonthill served as a showplace for Mercer’s famed Moravian tiles that were produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. The building is an eclectic mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and is significant as an early example of poured reinforced concrete.

After lunch, we'll visit the Mercer Museum, a history museum of everyday life in America during the 18th and 19th centuries. You can step back in time in a castle housing over 40,000 early American artifacts, and view a Conestoga wagon, horse-drawn carriages and antique fire engine suspended overhead in the museum's Central Court area. 

You can also explore the lovely shops and historical streets of Doylestown afterwards, and we'll be back to Penn Campus by 5pm. 

The $20 ticket price include:

  • Round trip bus transportation between Penn Campus and Doylestown, and bus between Fonthill Castle and Mercer Museum ($20 value).
  • Admission tickets to Fonthill Castle and Mercer Museum ($20 value).
  • A guided group tour in Fonthill Castle.
  • A lunch bag with sandwich, fruit, cookie and chips ($10 value).

Tickets go quickly! Please purchase at the front desk of Graduate Center. Each Penn graduate student can buy up to two tickets. Please inform the desk fellow if you have special dietary requests. 

For more information about Merser Museum and Fonhill Castle, please visit:

Discounted Book Sale: The Big Sea

Thursday, March 31, 2016
Sale starts on Nov 6, 2015. Please buy the book at the front desk of the Graduate Center, 3615 Locust Walk
Price: $5 each, limit 1 per Graduate Penn Card


The Big Sea, by Langston Hughes, is the reading project for the Year of Discovery at Penn. You can buy this book at a only $5 at the Grad Center! Read the book over winter break, and join us for a book discussion on February 4 led by Professor Herman Beavers from the Department of English.

Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea, he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade--Harlem and Paris. In Paris he was a cook and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was a rising young poet--at the center of the "Harlem Renaissance."

Arnold Rampersad writes in his incisive new introduction to The Big Sea: "This is American writing at its best--simpler than Hemingway; as simple and direct as that of another Missouri-born writer...Mark Twain."

Common Room Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 9AM-8PM
Friday: 9AM-6PM
Saturday-Sunday: 12PM-6PM

Graduate Student Center

3615 Locust Walk
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia PA 19104-6221