The Gordon Fellowship

From the inception of the Urban Studies Program at Penn, connecting theory and practice has been one of our guiding principles. In this spirit, we offer the Gordon Fellowship, sponsored by alumnus Jacques Gordon (URBS1978) and his family. Winners of the Gordon Fellowship receive a $5,000 stipend to explore a summer internship that improves the quality of life in cities, and will benefit from career mentoring through alumni activities during the school year. 

Internships can take place in a wide range of organizations, including public interest, policy research, government, arts & culture, planning and preservation, built environment, community development, education, and advocacy. Internships may be located anywhere in the U.S., including Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

Internships should be scheduled for between 8-10 weeks during the summer. Fellows are expected to provide updates about their internship experiences and to participate in fellowship activities during the following school year, such as advising future Gordon Fellowship applicants and participating in alumni/career events.

The 2023 Gordon Fellows have hit the ground running;
click here to see what they're working on this summer!

Applicants can be Urban Studies majors or minors finishing their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year of study. You may apply if you are a 1st or 2nd year student who is strongly considering a major or minor in Urban Studies. Preference will be given to Urban Studies majors. We strongly encourage applications from students who are members of groups underrepresented in careers in urban studies fields. Recipients of the Gordon Fellowship award may not receive any concurrent funding or compensation for their proposed internships.

Due by Monday, May 12th, 2023, via email to

The application asks for a statement of purpose, which should include:

1) a description of activities that you would like to undertake during the summer experience;
2) how the proposed internship will support the mission of the Gordon Fellowship – contributing to improving the quality of urban life; and
3) how the internship will contribute to your scholarly, activist, creative, and/or professional aims.

The application also requires the student to attach a letter from the internship organization acknowledging its willingness to take on an intern carrying out the described activities. Finally, provide the names and contact information of two academic and/or professional references. The Urban Studies Program will make every effort to notify selected students as early as possible.

Students without a site in mind are encouraged to consult with Elaine Simon to discuss ideas and strategies for identifying a placement.  Please write to to indicate your interest, or with any questions.

Here's a recording of last year's info session:

The 2021 Cohort of Urban Studies Gordon Fellows continued in the shared goal of taking urban theory into the real world, participating in summer internships and organizing community events for their fellow Urbies.

Meet the 2020 Gordon Fellows, featured in Penn News Today this summer. The Fellows collaborated on a blogpost, reflecting on the future of cities, informed by their work over the summer.

See the write up of 2019's Fellows for examples of the internship experiences developed by students in the previous summer. And here are their summer pics!