Instructor highlight: Greg Goldman Cultures and Communities seminar Instructor

March 15, 2024

1. Can you share a bit about your background and what led you to join the Chicago Center/Philadelphia Center?

Alongside my work as a grantmaker, executive director, and chief development officer in the nonprofit space here in Philadelphia, I’ve been teaching in the Urban Studies program at Penn since the late 1990s. I joined the School of Social Policy and Practice around 2011. My courses focus on urban issues and the efforts that nonprofits and philanthropy make to address them, almost always with the lens turned to Philadelphia. The issues are challenging and the nonprofit sector here is strong and diverse. My teaching at Penn lines up perfectly with the learning objective of my course “Cultures and Communities” for The Philadelphia Center.

2. What is your teaching philosophy, and how do you approach creating an engaging and inclusive learning environment?

My teaching philosophy is based on the fact that I have a lot to learn from my students, and that engaging with them and their questions and interests keeps my thinking fresh and my outlook positive. I genuiniely like to hear what students think. I am known for answering almost every question I am asked with a question of my own: ” I am happy to tell you what I think, but first, will you share what you think?” In almost every case, a student’s “question” is more of a chance for them to test their own thoughts, if the professor allows them the space to express them.

3. How does your expertise contribute to the unique learning experience that the Chicago Center/TPC offers?

Having worked in the Philadelphia non-profit sector for a little over 30 years now, and living in the City of Philadelphia for all that time, I know the city, its issues and dynamics, and its social service infrastructure fairly well. That said, it is always evolving, and my teaching requires me to stay current.

4. Can you share a memorable experience from your career that has had a significant impact on you?

I started my career working for a nonprofit social service agency in Chicago, called Jobs for Youth. It was a highly effective, well-run organization in which the staff was completely racially diverse. My supervisor was an older, ebullient African American gentleman by the name of Joe Phillips. He walked with crutches due to a childfhood illness. He nicknamed me “G-Man,” took me under his wing and turned me on to direct community service. I loved working with urban youth. Working in environments like that has been my passion and my happy place professionally ever since.

5. What are you most excited about in joining the Chicago Center/Philadelphia Center, and what expectations do you have for your students?

I love the fact that TPC students are coming from more rural colleges to Philadelphia to learn about cities. Philadelphia can be a tough town, but there are so many great people here working hard to make it a better for everyone. I am so excited to share their optimism and accomplishment with TPC’s students.

6. If you could give one piece of advice to students embarking on their learning journey at the Chicago Center and/or Philadelphia Center, what would it be?

Learn how to really observe. Take detailed note of what you see and hear. Go off the beaten path. And as you do, remember that there is a long trail of history in every neighborhood and community that has led to where it is today, and that same road leads to a future that is not yet written.