Penn AHEAD advances critical conversations about the roles and purposes of higher education through its engagement with public policymakers, college and university administrators, and researchers. Through presentations, seminars, and other events at Penn and around the world, we seek to promote ongoing public dialogue about critical issues facing higher education, and identify and disseminate information about innovative and productive solutions to these issues.

Expert Advice for Policymakers

Testimony Before Congress

Dr. Laura Perna testified in front of the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training on April 30, 2015, on efforts to improve higher education access and completion for low-income and first-generation students. Dr. Perna's testimony specifically focused on the role of college access and success programsClick here to view the press release and click here to watch Dr. Perna's testimony. 

Last summer, Dr. Perna testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on states' role in higher education. Click here to view the video of her testimony.  

Featured Events

AHEAD on the Road
Monday, September 26, 2016 -
8:30am to 3:30pm
Turnbull Conference Center

Penn AHEAD Executive Director Laura Perna gives a keynote speech on conducting research to improve equity in higher education attainment at Florida State University College of Education's 10th Annual Dean's Symposium. This year's symposium brings together educational researchers, state policy-makers, school administrators, teachers, and Florida State faculty and students to dicuss issues of critical importance to the state and nation. This year's theme is "Increasing Momentum for Post-Secondary Success."

Advice for Policymakers and Institutional Leaders
Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - 7:00am

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has released 31 "Ed-Talk" videos that focus on important issues in K-12 and higher education such as education equity, the use of research in policy-making, student learning, and opportunities for disadvantage students. Accompanied by research fact sheets, these 6-minute talks headlined the AERA Knowledge Forum as part of the association’s Centennial year programming.

Penn AHEAD Executive Director Dr. Laura Perna focused her talk on improving college access and success for students from historically underrepresented groups. The full video can be found here and the accompanying research fact sheet can be downloaded here.


AHEAD @ Penn
Thursday, April 7, 2016 -
9:00am to 12:00pm
Graduate Student Center, Room 305 3615 Locust Walk

The Transition to Higher Education in France: Differences between secondary schools in the framing and support of students' choice. Join PennAHEAD and visiting scholar Agnés van Zanten for a discussion on the political, economic and social pressures, the rapid transformation of the landscape of higher education and the growing diversification of incoming students' profiles and expectations. Using data from an ongoing study, the talk will focus on general trends in access to higher education as well as specific institutions. 

 Agnés van Zanten is a sociologist and senior research professor working for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at OSC at Sciences Po, Paris. She is also the director of the series "Education et Société at Presses Universitaires de France. 

Coffee and donuts will be served.

  • To view the presentation from this discussion please click here.