Turner Social Impact Society

Are you a motivated undergraduate student interested in deepening your social impact expertise? Looking for meaningful opportunities to engage with your peers and faculty? Apply to Turner Social Impact Society (TSIS), a select community of Penn and Wharton undergraduate scholars who spend the academic year examining a social impact research question.

In this interdisciplinary program, you’ll work in a small team with like-minded peers to research a social impact topic within a faculty-led focus area. You’ll have the academic year to deeply probe and build expertise in your topic, while receiving support from WSII staff, faculty, and industry experts.

Before the end of the spring semester, your team will submit a 10-15 page report detailing your findings—and even have the opportunity to publish your work on our website. As a scholar, you’ll also present your findings to peers and the WSII community of faculty, industry experts, and alumni.

Eligibility

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Penn or Wharton.

Time Commitment

1 academic year. In addition to the independent time students will spend researching and writing, TSIS scholars should expect monthly meetings each semester with their peers and WSII staff in addition to meeting with their faculty advisor and/or industry experts.

Note

The TSIS application is closed. Sign up for our student newsletter to hear about future opportunities to participate in TSIS.

“The support of TSIS has been a formative part of my college experience.”

DEBI OGUNRINDE, C’16
As a TSIS member, you’ll:
  • Build community with fellow scholars who share your passion for deepening knowledge about the intersection of social impact and business.
  • Work closely with faculty and industry leaders, and receive their expert guidance on your research.
  • Improve your ability to develop, analyze, and present an original research topic.
  • Gain VIP access to special guest speakers and events at Wharton, such as the Turner Executive Speaker Series and the Nazarian Innovator in Residence.
TSIS members are selected by Wharton Social Impact Initiative staff. Late applications will not be accepted, nor will supplemental materials sent separately from the formal application form.

Questions? Contact Yuri Seung, Program Manager.

For additional info, see FAQ below.

“From TSIS, I learned a lot more about potential careers like social entrepreneurship and impact investing, as well as the different pathways people took getting there. Hearing about others who are on this path made it seem a lot more achievable and also gave something to aspire towards.”

STEPHANIE WU W’20

The support and vision of impact investor Bobby Turner, W’84, catalyzed the launch of Turner Social Impact Society in 2014.

As a longtime supporter of social impact activities at Wharton, Turner is an example of using business knowledge for social good. He also helps inform the ongoing priorities and future direction of the Wharton School as a member of the board of overseers.

headshot of Bobby Turner in a black button down shirt with arms crossed

FAQ

I am a current student at Penn and interested in social impact. Am I eligible to apply to Turner Social Impact Society?

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors across Wharton and Penn are eligible to apply to Turner Social Impact Society.

What would make me a competitive TSIS applicant?

Our selection team looks for students who have demonstrated a strong interest in social impact through relevant coursework or extracurricular activities. We are also looking for students who can commit to a full year of deep learning and collaboration with their peers to drive research on social impact.

What is each team required to submit at the end of the year?

WSII staff will provide detailed guidance on all of your final submissions, but you can expect to submit a 10-15 page double-spaced report and a brief presentation deck about your findings. At the end of the academic year, your team’s report and presentation deck will have the opportunity to be published on our website for you to share your accomplishments with colleagues, family, and even your LinkedIn network!

My friend also applied to TSIS. Can we be assigned to the same team?

If you and a friend are both accepted to the program in the same year, please reach out to Yuri Seung, Program Manager to see what’s possible.

Has TSIS changed?

Yes, the TSIS program has evolved since its launch nearly a decade ago. Once a community of like-minded peers, we are proud to add this faculty-led research component to make TSIS even more engaging and meaningful.

When do you accept new applicants?

Please subscribe to our newsletter or check our website for specific dates.

How much of a time commitment is TSIS?

This program requires a full academic year commitment. Each semester, your team will have mandatory meetings with WSII staff and faculty where we’ll provide guidance and support your research. While we won’t monitor each small team meeting, we encourage you to meet regularly. Your team will also be required to submit written updates to staff and faculty throughout the year.

How do you decide who gets assigned to each research project and team?

In the application, you are able to rank your preferred research project based on your interests, skills, and previous experience. Our staff will do our best to put together complementary peer teams based on students’ preferences. Not every student will be matched with one of their top projects, but all projects will help you develop your skills for impact—and you’ll get a chance to learn about all of the topics in TSIS-wide meetings. If you apply to TSIS, you’re committing to work on the project to which you’re assigned.

I wasn’t selected to join TSIS this year; what are ways I can stay in touch with Wharton Social Impact Initiative? Can I reapply next year?

You can keep in touch with us by signing up for our newsletter. This is the easiest way to stay up to date with our upcoming events and opportunities. You may also reapply to TSIS in the following year if you meet the eligibility requirements listed above.

FACULTY ADVISORS AND RESEARCH TOPICS

  • Professor Bidwell, Management: Understanding Opportunities for High School Educated Workers
  • Professor Erickson, Finance: Investing in BIPOC Communities: Promises and Follow-Through
  • Professor Guay, Accounting: The Role of Corporate Governance in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability
  • Professor Hughes, Legal Studies & Business Ethics: Living wages: What Businesses Pay Living Wages, and What Helps Them to Do This?
  • Professor Jensen, Statistics and Data Science: What Causes Crime? Exploring Public Disorder in Philadelphia
  • Professor McDonnell, Management: Exploring Issues at the Intersection of Corporate Governance, Corporate Political Activity, Social Movements, and Legal Punishment of Corporate Wrongs
  • Professor Petkoski, Senior Fellow, Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research: Implementation of ESG: How to Bridge the Gap Between Academic Research and the Challenges of Implementation?
  • Professor Small, Statistics and Data Science: Gun Violence Prevention
  • Professor Werbach, Legal Studies & Business Ethics: Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: Are They Really Advancing Financial Inclusion?

Apply to join this social impact community.