The new LGBTQ Certificate at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School is the result of strategic cross-school collaboration and will prepare students to better serve and advocate for LGBTQ+ communities.
The certificate program offers a unique opportunity for students to delve deeply into law and policy issues that are crucial to the continued defense and advancement of equality for LGBTQ+ individuals. Though several Law School courses already incorporate LGBTQ+ issues and advocacy, a formalized, cross-disciplinary program will enable students to study issues from multiple perspectives alongside students from other schools within the University of Pennsylvania.
Associate Professor at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice Dr. Amy Hillier spearheaded the creation of the interdisciplinary certificate in response to growing feedback from students in her Social Work courses who expressed that they would like more resources and support in preparing to serve LGBTQ+ communities. Learning that Penn Nursing and Graduate School of Education students had also expressed similar interests, Hillier applied for a Penn Futures grant to design the interdisciplinary program of study.
As the program continues to grow, Hillier expressed that she is excited to welcome law students, who play a crucial role in advocating for full equality under the law for LGBTQ+ people and an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
“There’s a lot of growing we want to do, and we look forward to having the support of the Law School,” Hillier said. “It’s really impressive to see the list of things that the Law School is doing, especially in the Office of Equity & Inclusion – and this is part of that, too.”
The LGBTQ Certificate is one of 17 certificate programs and over 40 total cross-disciplinary offerings available to JD students. There is no application process for the Certificate; students who wish to earn the LGBTQ Certificate must officially express their interest then create an individualized plan to complete the necessary requirements, which will be audited when they graduate.
In designing the certificate, Hillier noted that it was important to everyone to ensure that the content was truly cross-disciplinary and customizable to what each student needed to learn to best serve LGBTQ+ communities within their own profession.
“People have different values. Between law students, social workers, nurses, and teachers, there are probably going to be some differences, so we’ve tried to make the certificate that is not just everyone coming to take social work classes,” Hillier said. “Instead, it really is something that has a shared ownership.”