Innovation @ Penn GSE is a space where theory and practice from numerous disciplines and fields intertwine with the goal of driving meaningful, positive educational change. We launch innovative initiatives and academic programs with the potential to push education forward.

Coming Soon - Center for Innovation

Penn GSE is planning a center for innovation, which will build upon the school’s history of exploring the frontiers of education and research to improve educational outcomes. The center will be launched and led by Executive Director Michael Golden, who brings a wealth of expertise from senior leadership positions in public, private and non-profit sector roles in education. A hub of intellectual capital and knowledge, the center’s mission is to share research and expertise well beyond the traditional world of academia. By seeding and incubating new ideas, supporting educators, leaders and entrepreneurs, convening communities, and building the infrastructure to facilitate new solutions, the center aims to create new pathways for opportunity in education. Please stay tuned as we develop our plans to expand Penn GSE’s efforts to bring inspiration, impact and equity to education.

Entrepreneurial Programs and Projects


Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition
More about this ProjectThe Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) is designed to catalyze game-changing innovations in both the not-for-profit and for-profit education market. The Competition offers both would-be and established entrepreneurs a forum to test their new ideas, and rewards the winners with a host of benefits including cash prizes and access to a vibrant ecosystem of entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, and investors. Select contestants also have an opportunity to become Education Design Studio Inc. Fellows. EDSi Fellows participate in an exciting new program that includes seed funding; access to professional expertise and mentoring; a supportive community context; and access to extensive research and practitioner expertise. Together, the EBPC and EDSi create a clear and efficient pathway from inception to adoption for high impact education innovations.

Education Design Studio, Inc. (EDSi)
More about this ProjectIn its continued pursuit to accelerate the rate of innovation in education and connect research to practice, the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education has collaborated with a group of highly regarded education investors to create the Education Design Studio, Inc. EDSi is a hybrid incubator, design studio, seed fund, and social impact company established specifically for education ventures operating across the P-20 spectrum as well as in adult and corporate education. The Design Studio’s explicit and singular focus on education increases the success rate for start-up and early stage ventures through a unique strategic plan which includes connecting research to practice; providing a flexible funding model that accommodates education-specific production cycles; offering opportunities to test startup ideas in actual schools and corporate learning environments; and leveraging the world-class faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

Virtual Online Teaching ProgramMore about this Program
Penn GSE’s certificate in virtual online teaching (VOLT) will develop instructors grounded in educational theory who are expert in their content areas and also adept at harnessing technology to design and implement curricula. Instructors will be prepared to teach in online and blended environments. VOLT is intended as a complement to traditional teacher-education programs and is appropriate for both pre- and in-service educators teaching across the P-20 spectrum. This program will provide rich, hands-on experiences with educational technology in order to integrate this new knowledge with expertise developed in a traditional teacher education program or through classroom experience. Apply Now.

Thought Leadership

The Innovation Team


Barbara “Bobbi” Kurshan

Executive Director, Academic Innovation & Senior Fellow

Joan Romm

Program Manager, Innovation@PennGSE 

Rachel Ebby-Rosin

Research Associate

Chenelle Boatswain

Research Assistant

Serrano Legrand

Research Assistant

Michael Golden

Executive Director, Center for Innovation & Senior Fellow

Brad Beshara

Managing Director, Academic Innovation

Betty Chandy

Program Director, Online Learning

Ben Greenwald

Administrative Coordinator

Rita Ferrandino

President, EDSi

Sarah Gudenkauf

Research Assistant

“I have found that the most successful companies in education are underpinned by cutting-edge research as well as testing in real-world educational settings. At Penn GSE, we’ve been able to nurture a powerful ecosystem where researchers, practitioners, investors, and entrepreneurs can find and work with each other easily to develop innovative educational solutions that can make an impact.”

Dr. Bobbi Kurshan
Senior Fellow & Executive Director of Academic Innovation



University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Brad Beshara
Managing Director, Academic Innovation
Office of Academic Innovation