Breadcrumbs

Certificate Program

Explore your passion.

Beginning in the 2017-18 academic year, Penn Charter Upper School started a Certificate Program for upper class students (11th and 12th grade). The purpose of certificates is to engage students who are looking to integrate different aspects of the Upper School program around a particular focus and passion in their junior and senior years.

"The certificate programs align students' passion with Quaker values. Our faculty designed the certificate programs to open time and space for deep discovery, thinking, and connectivity to the existing curriculum across many departments." Travis Larrabee, director of strategic initiatives

Key Characteristics

Through pursuit of a certificate, students will integrate coursework, projects, activities and a Senior Comprehensive Project (SCP) around a particular theme.

There are three pedagogical goals that certificate programs aim to achieve:

  • Intellectual Curiosity: All certificate programs are interdisciplinary in nature and seek to connect student passions to Quaker values and goals within our Strategic Vision.
  • Time and Space: Certificates are meant to encourage student-directed inquiry and capture learning and engagement beyond the classroom walls and standardized tests.
  • Public Purpose: Students will be asked to address broader issues of social responsibility and identify how their academic interests address needs both locally and globally. (Living Lives that Make a Difference).

“All of my teachers are so passionate about their subject. My teacher last year could talk about the French Revolution for hours without even glancing at her notes.

She really cared about making sure we understood the material, and also that we were able to use our knowledge to argue different sides and engage with the curriculum in a more personal way.” Annika Murray, Class of 2019

Graduation Requirements

A completed certificate demonstrates high academic achievement and will be awarded in addition to the Penn Charter diploma. Interested students will go through an application process in the spring of their sophomore year (around course planning time in March). Accepted students will meet regularly during their junior and senior years with a certificate advisor (usually in block 9). Your certificate advisor will provide support and feedback for each aspect of the certificate process. Certificate students are required to maintain a digital portfolio throughout the program. Portfolios should include: reflections, pictures, course material and projects.

There are four main components to all certificate work:

  • Course credits (a selected number of courses will be noted in each certificate)
  • Three major projects (examples are given for each certificate below)
  • 80 activity hours across junior and senior years.
  • SCP (Senior Comprehensive Project) that is centered around the certificate theme

Certificates Offered in 2019-20

Certificate in Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

Certificate in Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability: CESS

This certificate builds upon our Quaker testimony of stewardship and aims to build the critical thinking skills needed to explore the complex issues of environmental  sustainability. Through coursework and real world engagement, students will build the necessary capacities to find solutions to our collective environmental challenges. The following four components are required, but particular projects and activities will be open to student interest and inquiry.

Three Environmental Credits:

Students must complete at least three units/credits (3 semesters) in any of the following courses. You must earn a B average or higher in these selected courses to apply the credit towards the certificate.

  • AP Environmental Science (2 units)

  • Earth and Space Science (2 units)

  • The Natural History of the Wissahickon (1 unit)

  • Ornithology (1 unit)

  • Environmental Ethics (1 unit)

  • Outdoor Education (.33 units)

  • Imagining the Natural World (1 unit)

Three Major Projects:

Students must complete at least three major projects during the course of their Junior and Senior years. Projects can take a variety of forms and can be (but are not required to be) connected to coursework. All projects should contain the following three aspects: research, a final product(s), and an audience. The following are examples of CESS projects.  

  • US History Term Paper: exploring topics such as the rise of the conservation movement, the need for clean water and public sanitation before 1870, etc.

  • English Capstone Project: exploring nature imagery in American poetry, the Transcendental movement, etc.

  • Creating informational videos about electronic recycling drives at Penn Charter

  • A workshop for Friends Multicultural Day on a theme of sustainability

80 Activity Hours:

Student must complete at least 80 hours of activity credit over two years. As part of the Upper School Activity Requirement, students are required to complete two major activities per year. One of the activities must be a sport, and the second can be a 40-hour activity or a second sport. For students pursuing the certificate, they can apply this existing 40-hour activity requirement with a focus on environmental activities. They would need to complete a total of 80 hours of environmental activity. Many of these activities are offered through PC environmental clubs and events. A maximum of 20 out of the 80 hours could be completed in the summer. Some of these activities could include

  • Trail work or educational programming through Friends of the Wissahickon

  • On campus assistance with waste management including: upcycling, composting, recycling, electronic waste drives, etc.

  • Campus Learning Gardens support

  • Camping and Outdoor trips

80 Hour SCP:

Senior Comprehensive Project (SCP) should function as an environmental "capstone" to their certificate work. Through coursework, projects, and activity hours, we hope that individual students during the month of May in their 12th grade year will want to focus on a particular environmental theme in their SCP. These projects might include:

  • Protecting our watersheds and issues of drinking water

  • Exploring aspects of environmental law and policy

  • Poverty and access to healthy environmental commons (air, water, soil, food)

Students will connect a particular environmental theme with a "public purpose" lens in their SCP. While all 12th grade students are required to complete an SCP, those pursuing the certificate will work with the SCP advisor as well as the advisor for the Certificate in Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability to complete their SCP.

Certificate in Global Studes

Certificate in Global Studies: CGS

Global competency is defined as the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance (Boix Mansilla & Jackson 2011). As part of their work towards certification, students will work to build critical thinking skills in order to investigate our world and recognize the diverse perspectives necessary to face issues of global significance. The following four components are required for this certificate, but particular projects and activities will be open to students interest and inquiry. 

Three Global Studies Credits + 4 years of a language:

  • Students must complete four years of a language in the Upper School.

  • Students must complete at least three units/credits (3 semesters) in any of the following courses. You must earn a B average or higher in these selected courses to apply the credit towards the certificate.

  • Where East Meets West (1 unit)

  • Caribbean Literature (1 unit)

  • Theater from Around the World (1 unit)

  • Comparative Religions 1 and II (2 units)

  • Nationalism (1 unit)

  • American Foreign Policy 21st Century (1 unit)

  • Cultural Competence for the 21st Century (1 unit)

  • Global Issues (1 unit)

  • AP Art History (2 units)

  • AP World (2 units)

 

Three Major Projects:

Students must complete at least three major projects during the course of their Junior and Senior years. Projects can take a variety of forms and can be (but are not required to be) connected to coursework. All projects should contain the following three aspects: research, a final product(s), and an audience. The following are examples of CGS projects.  

  • US History Term Paper: exploring topics such as US-international relations

  • English Capstone Project: for example, exploring themes of immigrant voices in literature

  • A workshop for Friends Multicultural Day on a theme of global community such as Latinxs in the United States

 

80 Activity Hours:

Student must complete at least 80 hours of activity credit over two years. As part of the Upper School Activity Requirement, students are required to complete two major activities per year. One of the activities must be a sport, and the second can be a 40-hour activity or a second sport. For students pursuing the certificate, they can apply this existing 40-hour activity requirement with a focus on global studies. They would need to complete a total of 80 hours of activities related to global studies. Many of these activities are offered through PC clubs and events which relate to issues of global issues. A maximum of 20 out of the 80 hours could be completed in the summer. Some of these activities could include

  • Attending a lecture or presentation

  • Organizing and leading a lesson in Amigos, French club, or Chinese club

  • International trips, through Penn Charter or other organizations

 

80-Hour SCP:

Senior Comprehensive Project (SCP) should function as a global studies "capstone" to their certificate work. Through coursework, projects, and activity hours, we hope that individual students during the month of May in their 12th grade year will want to focus on a particular global theme in their SCP. These projects might include:

  • Working with an immigrant community in Philadelphia

  • Exploring bilingual education in area schools

Students will connect a particular global theme with a "public purpose" lens in their SCP. While all 12th grade students are required to complete an SCP, those pursuing the certificate will work with the SCP advisor as well as the advisor for the Certificate in Global Studies to complete their SCP.