Over 30 faculty at the University of Pennsylvania teach courses in the environmental humanities. Now, Penn undergraduates can declare a minor in this growing field!
The environmental humanities minor in the School of Arts & Sciences gives Penn students the opportunity to work across disciplines and explore how knowledge systems represent and respond to past and present environments, ecologies, places and worlds at a variety of scales. The minor emphasizes change and transformation, rather than stable states and received disciplinary borders. Students enroll in one transdisciplinary touchstone course co-taught by at least two faculty working individually in distinct disciplinary traditions and together to model cross-disciplinary knowledge-making. In the spring of 2023, this course was taught by anthropologist Dr. Kristina Lyons and toxicologist Dr. Marilyn Howarth.
In the touchstone course this spring, students developed EJ Philly, a special edition series of The Canopy about environmental (in)justice in Philly. They investigated heat islands and disparities, the importance of urban gardening for immigrant communities, and the public health and environmental legacies of the PES refinery for local communities in South Philly. You can listen and subscribe at Spotify, Google, and Apple!
Annual Topic: Listening for the Anthropos-not-seen
Topic Director: Kristina Lyons Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Humanities
Feminist critiques of the Anthropocene suggest how this name for a new geological time risks uncritical assumption of an unmarked concept of history, humanity, and the geologic record. During the 2022-2023 academic year, this four-part conversational series brought feminist philosophers, humanists, and social scientists in dialogue with lawyers, natural scientists, engineers, policy makers, and other transdisciplinary and community-based practitioners.
Events September 29, 2022: Stories from the Anthropos-not-seen November 30, 2022: Critical Engagements with Rights of Nature February 23, 2023: Anti-colonial/Decolonial Science Studies in Practice March 30, 2023: Colonial ways of listening: an environmental kin study of fish recordings
PPEH offered a new lunch series, Working Wednesdays, designed to showcase in-progress Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) straddling theoretical and practical environmental concerns with a focus on our mid-Atlantic region. These sessions took place on Wednesdays, 12:30-1:30.
Many thanks to all our Working Wednesday presenters and participants!
Unsovereign Elements: Geological Poetics in Contemporary Art from the Caribbean and its Diaspora
Exhibit curated by '22-'23 Graduate Fellow Cecilia González Godino
Unsovereign Elements was a multimodal group exhibition featuring 11 women artists that examined the ambiguous role of geological elements in the (re)production of the Caribbean archipelago—certainly exhausted by modernity as discursive instruments, yet always retaining a poetic potential that far exceeds their materiality.
Drawing from these ideas as the starting point, the exhibition established the notion of “unsovereignty” and the “unsovereign” as an open category for every body of flesh, of nature, and of knowledge whose power resides not in its figurative and conceptual agency, but in its ecological and relational agency.
Listen Up! Philadelphia Youth Share Their Climate Stories
PPEH's Climate Champions—nine high school teachers working in eight Philadelphia School District high schools across the city—and approximately 200 of their students joined us at Irvine Auditorium for Listen Up! Climate Stories and Philadelphia Youth. Featured speaker Devi Lockwood, author of 1,001 Voices on Climate Change, discussed her work documenting climate change in 20 countries across six continents and led our students and PPEH community in a wonderful Deep Listening session. Afterward, workshops led by facilitators from Cosmic Writers engaged students in the process of climate storytelling and empowered them to share their own experiences of climate change in Philadelphia.
On April 26th, more than 150 Philadelphia high schoolers gathered at the WHYY headquarters for the first My Climate Story Storytelling Festival. This festival was the synthesis of a year's work with My Philadelphia Climate Story, a public research project in collaboration with PPEH, the School District of Philadelphia, and WHYY that encourages participants to consider global climate change on a personal scale.
This year, as part of My Philadelphia Climate Story, 11 talented high school students from three Philadelphia schools were selected as Climate Heroes to participate in climate writing workshops. The lessons, led by Cosmic Writers, also featured an interviewing workshop with journalists from WHYY. Our Climate Heroes learned to sharpen their climate storytelling, shape interview questions, and share their communities' experiences, all while forming strong connections over their shared climate advocacy.
Check out work from these students, as well as other students in the Climate Champions' classrooms, in this new multimedia exhibit.
The Intersecting Energy Cultures Working Group, convened by PPEH’s Bethany Wiggin and Dr. Rebecca Macklin at the University of Edinburgh, aims to bring together researchers working directly with community-based partners to develop a picture of the varied and uneven impacts that stem from the international workings of energy industries. Our emphasis on intersecting energy cultures means that we seek to explore the impacts of industries including (but not limited to) petroleum, nuclear, gas, and coal as well as renewable energy forms.
The ongoing Ecotopian Toolkit initiative is a collaborative effort between creators, artists, academics, and the general public to develop and provide access to shared sustainable tools and knowledge to endure current and future ecological challenges.
This living archive collects those tools, inviting you to adopt and adapt them for our climate-changing world.
“Products of Our Environment” is a collaborative working group created by Jared Bozydaj and '22-'23 PPEH Affiliated Researcher & Visiting Scholar Isabel Lane that explores the relationship between the environment, prisons, and justice. The group is composed of both incarcerated people and non-incarcerated people who exchange work and ideas through writing, drawing, and conversation.
The group aims to support intersectional thinking, share stories about the environment and our place within it, think ecologically and expansively about social justice, and rethink boundaries between inside/outside and incarcerated/free.
Read up on the work of '22-'23 PPEH Graduate Fellow Pablo Aguilera Del Castillo, PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. In his "A Week in the Life of a Mexican Environmentalist" photo essay series, Pablo invites us to dwell on the photographs taken by four women to document their everyday efforts to better understand and protect the fragile subterranean landscape in Yucatán, Southern Mexico.
In "Environmental Justice in Academia," Penn undergraduate student and Environmental Humanities minor Yamila Frej interviews '22-'23 PPEH Public Pedagogies Fellow Jane Robbins Mize about environmental justice at Penn. Jane Robbins illuminates how academics—both students and scholars—can ensure that their work makes meaningful contributions to environmental justice movements outside the university walls.
In the touchstone course of the Environmental Humanities minor, students developed EJ Philly, a special edition series of The Canopy about environmental (in)justice in Philly. They investigated heat islands and disparities, the importance of urban gardening for immigrant communities, and the public health and environmental legacies of the PES refinery for local communities in South Philly.
Volunteering with Move-In Green is a fun and interactive experience, with participants receiving early move-in privileges. We look for energetic upperclassmen to help spread awareness of sustainability news and information for new and returning Penn students.
Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis and interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
Announcing 2023-24: Garden Classroom Grant Program
to support STEAM & Literacy Instruction in K-12 Schools in Philadelphia County
$500-1000 funds for material supplies; Funded participation PHS 'Green City Teachers' or 'Garden Tenders' Training; Participation in Botanography's 'Exquisite Garden' community writing project; Nature Printing Workshops for students & teachers
DEADLINE for APPLICATION: July 1, 2023 GRANTS ANNOUNCED: July 31, 2023
Hope to see you soon and wishing you all the best!
To stay up to date on programs, events, and community opportunities, check our website ppehlab.org and keep an eye on your inbox for The Understory! If you would like to share an event, new publication, or opportunity on our channel, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!