History and Mission

The Fox Leadership International (FLI) mission is to equip and empower Penn students and recent alumni for present and future roles as ethical and effective 21st century leaders who promote international cooperation and practice global problem-solving.

During its first several years, FLI sponsored research and service fellowships for Penn faculty members, staff members, students, and recent alumni in China, India, Italy, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States. But FLI focuses mainly on global leadership and problem-solving in China and the United States.

FLI is a proud part of Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and works closely with the SAS College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS). But FLI has supported Penn faculty members, staff members, students, and recent alumni in seven other Penn schools: Design, Education, Law, Nursing, Social Policy and Practice, Wharton, and Veterinary Medicine. In addition, FLI has actively partnered with scholars and leaders at several leading Chinese universities including Beijing Normal University, Peking University, and Tsinghua University.

FLI is organized into two separate but intersecting subunits:

  • PEACEPartnerships for Educational Advancement and Cultural Exchange: PEACE is FLI’s primary fellowships, cross-cultural relations, and student engagement arm.
  • PEPALPartnerships for Effective Public Administration and Leadership: PEPAL is FLI’s primary teaching, training, and professional research arm.

For a complete list of FLI PEACE and FLI PEPAL activities and initiatives, including photos and videos, click "FLI Timeline". 

Herewith is a brief summary of some notable moments and developments in the early history of FLI:

  • Summer 2014-November 2014: Robert A. Fox (C’52) and Penny Fox (ED’53) generously endow the Fox Leadership International (FLI) Program. While remaining partially integrated with the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program (known as “Fox”), FLI is intended to develop distinctive offerings that do more than simply “internationalize” the mission and ethos of the Fox Program. Even before signing the FLI donor agreement, the Foxes deposit the first portion of the FLI gift, thereby enabling FLI, in advance of its official launch in November 2014, to design, co-lead, and co-fund a summer 2014, 4-week, residential, Global Leadership and Problem-Solving (GLPS) program. Co-administered by the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), the first GLPS summer program brought to Penn more than 40 Chinese national students from more than 20 different Chinese universities located in Jiangsu Province and cross-laced them with American student-leaders. This highly successful program reinforced the early thinking that FLI should be international but China-centric. And it would also prove to be the first of many a successful collaboration between FLI and LPS.
  • February 2015: Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) Board of Overseers hears and endorses FLI Faculty Director John DiIulio’s preliminary five-year plan for FLI, a China-centric plan crafted to complement other ongoing and planned efforts relating to China by SAS, the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC), the Penn School of Nursing (SON) Science, other Penn schools, and also the Perry World House that would open in September 2016. DiIulio later becomes one among the SAS Faculty Dean’s committee on China programs and initiatives.
  • March 2015: FLI participates in the opening of the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) in Beijing and hosts two alumni events for its 2014 GLPS summer program Chinese national students. Travelling from afar in many cases, two-thirds of the FLI 2014 GLPS summer program alumni attend, and “JESIE,” the Jiangsu Province government agency that sponsored the program, publicly declares that Penn is the best of its more than two dozen American partners. One alumni event is held at the Dayton China Institute in the Suzhou Industrial Park, launching a partnership between it and FLI that would soon thereafter involve FLI Summer Fellowships and joint work on eldercare issues. In each of the next two summers (2015 and 2016), following visits in 2015 to JESIE headquarters by FLI leaders and LPS Vice Dean Nora Lewis, JESIE more than doubled the number of students it sent to Penn in summer 2014, and the success of the 2014 GLPS summer program leveraged separate JESIE programs in 2015 and 2016 at the Penn Museum.
  • March-April 2015: Stories in major Chinese newspapers and other Chinese media tout the Penn GLPS program and feature a music video, “In China,” by a Penn SAS Class of 2015 East Asian Languages and Civilizations alumnus who served as an RA/TA in the 2014 GLPS summer program.
  • May 2015: FLI Faculty Director John DiIulio is invited to Tsinghua University to deliver a major public address on public administration and leadership to executive and mid-career MPA students, and to meet several present and former government officials. The speech, “Leading China, Leading America: The Theory and Practice of Effective Public Leadership and Administration—A Problem-Solving, Case-Based, Cross-National Learning Approach,” is translated into Mandarin, captures the imagination of its audience, and is subsequently circulated widely among leading Chinese scholars and government officials. Shortly thereafter, DiIulio is inducted for a three-year term into the Tsinghua University China Center for Public Leadership, and Tsinghua University begins talks with Penn that will soon thereafter result in a graduate student exchange program.
  • Summer 2015: The second GLPS summer program for Chinese nationals hosts 40-plus students, and 8 Penn students complete an intensive, 10-week, service-learning fellowship program in Nanjing.
  • September 2015: FLI in concert with the Fox Leadership Program brings aboard Chih-Jen “Melvin” Lee, then a member of the Penn SAS East Asian Languages and Civilizations teaching faculty. One of the three most highly rated instructors in all departments and fields across SAS, the legendary “Teacher Lee” quickly becomes a pillar of Fox and FLI, its China-focused fellowships, and its communications with several different Chinese partner organizations. All the while, he still finds time to offer special Mandarin language instruction, translate and narrate the first FLI “Following in Franklin’s Global Footsteps” video in Mandarin, oversee an FLI-sponsored summer service-learning program in Suzhou (May-June 2016), and explore future prospects for fellowships in Taiwan.
  • December 2015: In accordance with the SAS Strategic Plan, and as part of agreements governing the faculty leadership of the four SAS programs located in the Fox Family Pavilion (FLI, Fox, Fels, and the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society), FLI becomes a fully free-standing SAS program and is commissioned to play an innovative role in developing SAS-anchored curricular and research initiatives involving China. A one-year Fox “budget trifurcation” process begins that will separate FLI finances from Fox finances while institutionalizing Fox-FLI resource-sharing for fellowships and staff support.
  • December 2015: FLI officially forms its PEACE and PEPAL student, alumni, and faculty committees and hosts the last of more than a half-dozen fall semester on-campus meetings and events.
  • January 2016: FLI in concert with the Fox Leadership Program brings aboard Dr. Merritt T. “Terry” Cooke while maintaining his role as founding leader of the China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia (CPGP) and continuing his work as a leading expert on China-U.S. energy/environmental issues and programs. In the year that follows, he co-leads in expanding and deepening FLI’s agenda and outreach, launches several novel China-U.S. initiatives, co-instructs in several FLI special courses, and plans for a major October 2016 conference on energy/environmental issues at the Penn Wharton China Center.
  • January 2016: FLI welcomes to Penn the first Penn-Tsinghua PEACE Graduate Exchange Fellow, Xinglin “Richard” Pan (Tsinghua MPA Candidate ’17), and he quickly becomes a major, valued, and positive force and presence at Penn and for FLI: participating in FLI courses and special programs; travelling to China with Penn faculty and students during spring break and again in the early summer; and contributing mightily to the planning for a possible Master of Liberal Arts GLPS program, the September 2016 conference on eldercare in Beijing, and more.
  • February 2016: Penn President Amy Gutmann and SAS Faculty Dean Steven J. Fluharty announce the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program’s “Fox 1500,” a plan to support 150 paid undergraduate and alumni research and service fellowships each year through 2026. FLI’s fellowship program becomes a key part of that plan. In 2016, more than 40 Fox-FLI fellowships are successfully sponsored, more than half of them bringing students to China, and others bringing students to India, several nations in Africa, and Europe.
  • February-March 2016: In February, the FLI Faculty Director John DiIulio, along with Fox Executive Director Joseph Tierney, then FLI Deputy Executive Director Chih-Jen “Melvin” Lee, and Ms. Geri Summerville of the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2), travel to several cities in China, meet a diverse array of Chinese officials and healthcare professionals with expertise on eldercare, and tour a half-dozen different eldercare facilities or hospitals. In March 2016, a dozen FLI faculty and students participating in the Spring 2016 FLI Global Leadership and Problem-Solving course travel to China during spring break, visit eldercare facilities, and interview business, government, medical, and other leaders involved in eldercare research or services.
  • March/Spring Break 2016: FLI sponsors ten Penn faculty and student-fellows on a research and service-learning trip to India led by FLI non-resident senior fellow Dr. Femida Handy of the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2).
  • Spring Semester 2016: FLI forms a multiple-year working partnership with several leading faculty members at the Penn School of Nursing (SON) Science. The main focus of the FLI-SON partnership is joint research efforts, fellowships for faculty and students, and curricular developments relating to China’s eldercare crisis. Several SON undergraduate students take a new Political Science “global leadership” course that is co-led by FLI and SON faculty members and affiliates. In May 2016 and June 2016, several of the SON students in the course and another SON student go on to spend 6 weeks in China as FLI Fellows studying eldercare more intensively and earning another course credit.
  • April 2016: The 30-member FLI China-U.S. PEACE Student and Alumni Society (CUP-SAS), proportionately representing Penn’s 2,100 Chinese national students across Penn’s twelve schools, hosts a conference at the Fox Family Pavilion on eldercare in China that features leading Penn faculty and other experts.
  • May 2016: A high-level delegation of Chinese government leaders, medical experts, healthcare practitioners, and others visit with FLI and SON leaders and tour the West Philadelphia Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) non-residential eldercare center that SON has co-led.
  • May 2016: FLI co-sponsors a Philadelphia Orchestra live radio broadcast to China.
  • May-June 2016: 8 Penn students and alumni complete a 6-week fellowship and service-learning program on eldercare in China in partnership with the Dayton China Institute, earning Penn course credit in the process.
  • June 2016: FLI leaders and students join with their Dayton China Institute partners and a wide array of Chinese government, business, healthcare, and other FLI partners and leaders in cutting the ribbon on a new eldercare facility in Nanjing.
  • July 2016: FLI hosts Ambassador Zhang Qiyue, the Consul General of China in New York since 2014, and former spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry (1998-2004), and a delegation of other top Chinese officials for breakfast and a session about FLI’s work that includes 20 GLPS summer program students from Beijing Normal University (BNU).
  • July 2016: FLI and LPS submit to the SAS Faculty Dean, Dr. Steven J. Fluharty, a preliminary proposal for a one-year Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) GLPS program that would have class cohorts composed initially of Chinese national students from partner universities and might eventually grow to cohorts of 30 Chinese national plus 30 American/other international students.
  • July 2016: FLI in concert with the Fox Leadership Program and LPS brings aboard Cheng Yao (Penn MPA ’16). He quickly becomes an indispensable and widely valued colleague involved in all aspects of FLI’s work as well as the ongoing international program development efforts (China-focused and other) of LPS.
  • July-August 2016: In partnership with LPS, FLI launches its third GLPS summer program: 63 Chinese national students from Nanjing University, Beijing Normal University, and several dozen other Chinese universities successfully complete the program, which concludes with successive evenings of cross-cultural musical and arts performances, a “commencement address” by a leading Tsinghua University scholar, and an expert panel on China-U.S. relations.
  • August 2016: FLI hosts a delegation of senior staff members from Baidu, a mega-firm that is sometimes referenced in America as “the Chinese Google,” and offers a half-day program for the rising Chinese first-year college students who won Baidu’s most prestigious academic competition.
  • August-September 2016: FLI brings aboard Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) Senior Associate Director, Zhe “Zoe” Qiao, as an FLI non-resident senior fellow, and solidifies plans for two Fall Semester 2016 conferences at the PWCC in Beijing: a September 15-16 PWCC conference with leading government officials, business executives, healthcare practitioners, and academic experts focused on eldercare in China, and organized and led by FLI CUP-SAS Co-Chairperson Chi Chen (Penn Wharton MBA ’16); and an October 12 PWCC conference on China-U.S. cooperation on energy/environmental programs led by FLI and CPGP leader, Dr. Terry Cooke.
  • September 2016: FLI hosts two public/press events at the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) in Beijing to announce its 5-year commitment (2017-2022) to a research and fellowship program on eldercare in China in partnership with the Penn School of Nursing (SON) Science, and to release the “eldercare anthem” music video that it co-produced in summer 2016. The music video, “YIZHI XIAOSHUN NI” (“Always Take Care of You”), is written, produced, and performed by FLI/CUP-SAS’s Daniel “Danny Du” DiIulio (Penn SAS ’15; Yale JD ’18), features FLI-LPS Fellow Cheng Yao (Penn MPA ’16) and FLI Alumni Fellow Bingqing Meng (Penn SP2 ’16).
  • September-October 2016: FLI Faculty Director John DiIulio appears on CCTV on a panel to discuss eldercare.
  • October 2016: FLI hosts a luncheon with the Shanghai Institute for International Studies to discuss the U.S. national elections and future of China-U.S. relations.
  • October 2016: FLI hosts a conference on energy and environment at the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) in Beijing.
  • October 2016: An FLI delegation visits the leaders of the Chinese National Commission on Aging (CNCA) in Beijing, and visits Dongcheng Elderly College and sponsors a live musical performance for its residents plus a screening of the “YIZHI XIAOSHUN NI” music video—the FLI “eldercare anthem” released in September 2016.
  • October 2016: FLI Faculty Director John DiIulio lectures on global leadership and problem-solving at Tsinghua University.
  • October 2016: FLI sponsors a 2016 GLPS summer program alumni event at Beijing Normal University (BNU) and FLI directors and staff members meet with top BNU leaders to discuss future research and other educational collaborations.
  • October-November 2016: More than a dozen major Chinese media outlets cover the FLI-SON initiative on eldercare in China, and the CNCA leadership reports its intention to circulate the FLI “eldercare anthem” music video to member institutions all across China, starting with thousands of elderly colleges with millions of participants.
  • November-December 2016: FLI hosts two CUP-SAS gatherings including the first end of semester CUP-SAS luncheon.
  • December 2016: FLI non-resident senior fellow Neysun Mahboubi visits the Supreme People’s Court in China.
  • December 2016: The Fox “budget trifurcation” process begun in December 2015 concludes, separating FLI finances from Fox finances while institutionalizing Fox-FLI resource-sharing for fellowships and staff support.
  • January 2017: Classes begin for the FLI-sponsored Political Science 598, “Global Leadership and Problem-Solving” course, focused on the eldercare crisis in China and the United States.
  • January 2017: FLI welcomes its second Graduate Exchange PEACE Fellow from Tsinghua University.
  • February 2017: FLI sponsors a CUP-SAS Chinese New Year event and a CUP-SAS mahjong tournament.
  • March/Spring Break 2017: FLI with Fox co-sponsors 30 Chinese national students and leads an expedition to New Orleans that begins with a meeting with the City’s Mayor and encompasses meetings with local nonprofit organization leaders and site visits.
  • March/Spring Break 2017: FLI sponsors Penn faculty and student-fellows on its second spring break research and service-learning trip to India, once again led by Prof. Femida Handy.
  • April 2017: Students in Prof. DiIulio's FLI-sponsored Political Science 598 class present their report on a 3-year pilot program for a new model of eldercare in Nanjing to a group of distinguished guests and professors, including Dr. Christine Bradway from Penn School of Nursing (SON) Science, Prof. Chao Guo from Penn School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2), Dr. Daniel Curran, former president of the University of Dayton, Mr. Scott Mulhauser, former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to Ambassador Max Baucus, Ms. Amy Nichols from Penn College of Liberal and Professional Studies, Mr. John Whitman from the Wharton School, and others.
  • June-July 2017: FLI sponsors a 7-person delegation to China led by Fox Associate Director of Operations Euria Chung, Dr. Christine Bradway of Penn School of Nursing (SON) Science, and several alumni fellows. The delegation visits several eldercare and hospital facilities, meets with Chinese eldercare experts, and participates in the Workshop on Smart Health and Home-based Community Eldercare.
  • July 2017: Prof. Chao Guo is named FLI Associate Faculty Director.
  • July-August 2017: In partnership with LPS, FLI runs its fourth GLPS summer program, with 57 students (37 from JESIE, 20 from BNU), and features new problem-solving foci including food security and water management.
  • August 2017: FLI supports non-resident senior fellow and Penn anthropologist, Prof. Deborah Thomas, on organizing the seminar "China in the Caribbean, the Caribbean in China" in Beijing, and engaging in a cultural exchange mission through artistic production by screening the documentaries, The Chiney Shop and Bad Friday, in Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Shanghai.
  • September 2017: A 3-person FLI delegation (Faculty Director John DiIulio, Fox Executive Director Joe Tierney, and Assistant Director Cheng Yao) hosts an alumni event in Nanjing for participants in the GLPS summer program from 2015, 2016, and 2017. Thirty-eight alumni attend the event. The FLI delegation also meets with Bishop Lu and Sister Zheng of the Archdiocese of Nanjing, and visits a program that the Archdiocese runs for young adults with Down syndrome or Autism.
  • October 2017: FLI Alumni Fellow Danny DiIulilo (Penn SAS ’15; Yale JD ’18), Fox Assistant Director Cheng Yao (Penn MPA ’16) and FLI Global Leadership Fellow Bingqing Meng (Penn SP2 ’16) conduct a 3-day baseline research study in Shenzhen to study the city’s eldercare crisis and approaches that might help ameliorate it.
  • October 2017: FLI hosts the First Biannual Joint Project on Eldercare in China (J-PEC) Symposium with a 10-person delegation from China, led by Prof. Yansui Yang of Tsinghua University and FLI CUP-SAS Co-Chairperson, Chi Chen (Penn MBA ’16). The weeklong eldercare problem-solving conference at Penn includes lectures by leading experts and site visits to local eldercare service providers including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Mercy LIFE, and the Ralston Center.
  • November 2017: Perry World House and FLI co-sponsor a talk, "How Facebook Can Protect Democracy," by Yale University's Asha Rangappa, an FLI senior fellow who is a Senior Lecturer at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and former Yale Law School Dean of Admissions.
  • December 2017: FLI hosts a CUP-SAS gathering for the 2017-2018 student representatives.
  • January 2018: Perry World House and FLI co-sponsored a talk, "National Security vs. Human Rights: State Detention of Migrants and International Law," by Dr. Jill Goldenziel, an FLI senior fellow who is an Associate Professor at Marine Corps University-Command and Staff College and also a Lecturer at Harvard College.
  • February 2018: FLI sponsors a CUP-SAS Chinese Lantern Festival event and the 2nd CUP-SAS mahjong tournament.
  • April 2018: FLI, LPS, CPGP and Perry World House co-sponsor an event, “From Baltimore to Beijing: China, America, and Sub-national Relations,” including keynote address by former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, followed by panel discussion with Governor O’Malley, Professor Jacque deLisle of Penn Law and Center for the Study of Contemporary China, and others, moderated by Professor Chao Guo. This event also serves to inaugurate the Penn International Masters of Public Administration (I-MPA) program (www.upenn.edu/impa).
  • April 2018: FLI sponsors a spring outing for 27 Penn undergraduate and graduate students to Morris Arboretum.
  • May 2018: FLI supports non-resident senior fellow and Penn anthropologist, Prof. Deborah Thomas, on organizing a public workshop and a film screening in Shanghai, and a cultural exchange project with a university and community art center.
  • May-June 2018FLI sponsors a 12-day Educational and Cultural immersion trip with 3 undergraduate fellows, led by Global Leadership Fellow Bingqing Meng (Penn SP2 ’16), to Hongkong, Shenzhen, Nanjing & Beijing in China. The delegation visits 7 eldercare facilities and engages in various cultural immersion activities.
  • June 2018: A 4-person FLI delegation (Associate Faculty Director Prof. Chao Guo, Executive Director Joe Tierney, Global Leadership Fellow Bingqing Meng, and Dr. Christine Bradway from Penn School of Nursing Science) participates in a workshop in Nanjing. From June 7 to 8, the workshop, co-sponsored by FLI, invovles 50 attendees from 26 organizations (affiliated with Catholic dioceses) from 18 provinces in China.
  • June 2018: Dr. Ferdous Jahan was hired as the Associate Director of FLI.