Philadelphia Commons Institute seeks to cultivate civic dialogue, engaged citizens, and the common good through interdisciplinary research and programs.


In the same way that William Penn introduced shared green space into his city of Philadelphia, we envision a shared intellectual, dialogical space where all are invited to ponder together the virtues, truths, values, and habits required for human flourishing within a free and ordered society.


  • Strengthen the Institutions of Civil Society: Civil Society will not build itself. We seek to nurture and sustain a robust civil society as well as free and humane citizens in their service to the common good.
  • Deliberative Democracy: We acknowledge that our democracy is made up of different points of view and the regular practice of face to face discussions with those with whom we disagree strengthens us as individual citizens and as a whole democratic society.
  • Civic Friendship: Consideration for one another is integral to sustaining civic dialogue, engaged citizens, and the common good. We seek to practice the skill of listening closely, with humility, to others so as to cultivate and sustain connection beyond the conversation.
  • Human Dignity: In our pluralistic society, recognition of the inherent dignity of each person is a critical part of upholding the common good.
  • Local Emphasis: We want to focus directly on our immediate community here in the greater Philadelphia area with an eye towards national trends.