PPEH in the news


(May 12, 2016)

CONGRATULATIONS to PPEH fellow (2015-16) Jess Holler for receiving the GAPSA-Provost Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Innovation, a highly competitive fellowship that supports original and interdisciplinary research at Penn. The fellowship will support her project, Growing Right: Applied Oral History, Advocacy, and the Rise of Ohio's Ecological Food and Farm Movement, 1970s-Present


This project will combine oral history and applied folkloristic and ethnographic fieldwork and community-base public folklore and public history presentation methodology to trace the rise of the organic and ecological food and farm movement in Ohio, through the lens of the state's grassroots ecological farming education, certification and advocacy organization: the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). Through oral histories with OEFFA founders and in-field interviews & other fieldwork, the project will document the movement history of ecological farming in Ohio (and beyond), the health and environmental beliefs of Ohio farmers and their translation into on-farm technologies, and the spaces and places (from farm tours to annual conferences) where the ecological farming community becomes a training ground for food systems and environmental activism. The project will result in an interview series, photographic and audio fieldwork, and a web-based archive and exhibition, with dreams for a podcast, physical exhibit and ongoing community workshops in oral history in the works. 


"Inspired by urban river projects that have revitalized the cities of Los Angeles and New York, the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities (PPEH) is collaborating on a project with Bartram’s Garden and River Corps to increase access to the Lower Schuylkill River, helping more people connect to the storied waterway.

The PPEH is exploring the development of “multi-modal public river-based tours” of Southwest Philadelphia, with Bartram’s Garden serving as the central hub of activities.

The PPEH will host a public planning meeting on Thursday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to noon at Bartram’s Garden. Discussion will center on existing local organizations, programs and events that intersect with the river guides project, examples of successful urban waterway tours and content for Lower Schuylkill River Guide tours."

For a PDF of this story, click here



Susan Alhborn for SAS Frontiers (March 31, 2016) - Feature piece on Physicist Larry Gladney

Penn Arts and Sciences is again partnering with the Philadelphia Science Festival (April 22-30, 2016), which annually brings more than 100,000 people together to celebrate the region’s historical strength in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). From the development of ENIAC, the first general purpose electronic computer, to the large hadron collider at CERN where the Higgs boson was discovered, Penn continues to be a leader in STEM fields—and in educating people in Philadelphia and around the world.

... [Dr. Gladney observes that] What does inspire people is hope for the future, but that puts scientists in an unfamiliar role. “It’s a different story than the one that scientists are naturally inclined to tell because we don’t like predicting things,” says Gladney. “But that’s what people are interested in.”

He looks at the growing partnership between environmental sustainability and the humanities, embodied by the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, as one model. “We’re not great at it yet but we are better at outreach and getting the people involved than we used to be,” he says. “We blog, we tweet, we Instagram. We have to tell a better story about what we do and why it’s important to people.”


Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities Is Shaping a New Normal

Penn News (March 23, 2016) - Feature Piece on PPEH programming

"There’s no doubt about it. Philadelphia weather is getting hotter and wetter each year influencing public concern about climate change. To increase understanding about the issue, a collective of faculty and students at the University of Pennsylvania, with other scholars, artists and scientists near campus and beyond, are working together in the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities.

Launched in 2014, the PPEH is on a mission not only to raise awareness but also to increase engagement in the emerging field of environmental humanities. This spring the PPEH 2015-16 “Curriculum for the New Normal” series of events continues with lectures, forums and field trips to address global-warming topics.

"For decades, scientists have known that global warming endangers humans' — and many other species' — futures," says Bethany Wiggin, founding director of the PPEH and an associate professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. "We have in effect endangered ourselves. But despite years of consensus in the scientific community, the factual story of our warming planet has only recently found an audience.'”



The Pennsylvania Gazette (December 21, 2015) - feature piece on WetLand

“'The project definitely registers in different ways with different people,” says Bethany Wiggin, founding director of the Penn Program for Environmental Humanities. “For many, it’s an inspiration, but some people can find it pretty apocalyptic, too.”

Part learning laboratory, part experiment in sustainable living, WetLand—a collaboration between PPEH, Bartram’s Garden, and creator Mary Mattingly—spent about a month of the fall semester floating on the Schuylkill River. Powered by solar panels, the waterborne habitat engaged curious onlookers with offerings that ranged from public health education to poetry readings to a workshop on “how to make your own seed bomb”—a ball of clay, compost, and flower seeds. Crew members spent nights aboard, and welcomed visitors by day to explore the houseboat’s beehive, rain-collection system, edible garden, and a Franklin Institute exhibit of miniature houses that illuminated ways to improve temperature management and water conservation at home. Other sources of fascination included a solar shower and composting toilet capable of producing usable fertilizer in 90 days."


Decked Out on Pier 68

Hidden City Philadelphia Magazine - Feature Piece on local project by PPEH graduate fellow Kasey Toomey


For the last two years, PPEH graduate fellow Kasey Toomey (Masters Candidate in Fine Arts and Landscape Architecture at UPenn) has been the project manager of the design team for Pier 68, a new public space on the Delaware River in South Philadelphia. Pier 68, a park designed in conjunction with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, opened on Oct 1, 2015 to the public. This section of the Delaware River waterfront has been known for generations as a working waterfront. The new park reconnects the neighborhood back to the river on Philadelphia's post industrial waterfront. The design process spearheaded by Toomey involved an extensive community engagement period with local constituents, as well as research on the Delaware River's native ecology in coordination with environmental government agencies. 


" Jenny Price has an unconventional view on the human interaction with the environment.

She wants us to “stop saving the planet” and before her current position at Princeton, took locals and tourists on ranger-led nature tours of Los Angeles. She asks the question not too many people think about regarding why we tend not to think of the environment as something that can be funny and looks for environmental awareness in places it usually may not be considered."


Blue is Green: A Discussion with Professor Steve Mentz

Steve Dolph - Event Recap (see event)

"As heavy clouds gathered over Philadelphia yesterday, a group of Penn professors, students, and administrators met in the library of the Philomathean Society to hear Steven Mentz describe his work in Environmental Humanities. Mentz, a professor of English at St. John’s University in New York, is a prominent voice in eco-studies, and we were eager to hear his perspective on issues of urgency not just to those of us working on the relationship between the human community and the non-human environment, but to anyone who has felt first-hand—through their body, home, or family—the precariousness of our place in the world."


Lunch and Learn with Stacy Levy

Penn Art & Culture - Event Recap (see event)

"A native of Pennsylvania, Levy likes to work with “wudder.” As a child she played in the river near her home and drank “Schuylkill punch.” For Levy, nature was always close by, but as she grew older, she also developed a greater awareness of our human impact on the natural environment. “There was a time when the Wissahickon sewers overflowed and it got into the river I played in growing up,” Levy recollected before a room of Penn students, faculty, and community members attending her talk at Slought."

View photos here.


How Old Fringe Products Stay Afloat

Newsworks - Feature Piece on WetLand

"Since the Fringe, WetLand has been dry-docked at a small boat storage marina in Westville, New Jersey, on the bank of Big Timber Creek. The 45-foot boat is on blocks a few feet from a nautical graveyard, where other boats that have succumbed to the elements. Mattingly, based in New York, is figuring out the second act of her floating metaphor."


The Redemption of the Schuylkill (part two)

Austin Bream - Event Recap (see event)

"The river as it was. The river as it is. The river as it could be. These are the three lenses through which John Frederick Lewis examines the Schuylkill River in his book The Redemption of the Lower Schuylkill, published in 1924. These same lenses serve as the backdrop for the Slought Foundation exhibit “The Redemption of the Schuylkill”, which opened this past May and came to a close on Tuesday, August 18th with a panel discussion about the river and its future, co-hosted by PPEH."


The Redemption of the Schuylkill (part one)

Carolyn Fornoff - Board Member Feature Article

"Even though the Schuylkill is intimately connected to the cityscape, it is easily taken for granted, as a static and unchanging resource. To flesh out the rich history of the river and its continuing importance, this summer Philadelphia City Parks Association and the Slought Foundation teamed up to run a public programming series examining Philadelphia’s dynamic relationship with the Schuylkill. PPEH faculty and artist in residence, Mary Mattingly, have helped to shape the program (you can hear Mary talk about her installation WetLand and the PPEHLab at WetLand on August 18th). At the suggestion of the PPEH Director, Prof. Bethany Wiggin, I came aboard to design an interview series to accompany the programming."


Spotlight: Penn Faculty and Alumni in Sustainability

IMPACT Magazine - Sustainability Issue (page 27)

"Penn associate professor of German and Director of the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities Bethany Wiggin, gives the impression of being intensely busy. At the end of an extensive email chain in which we scrambled to arrange a meeting time, we finally settled on five o'clock on a Friday afternoon. [...] [Wiggin's] ideas hint at a new trajectory for the way we think about the world we inhabit and give new meaning to the role of the humanities in the age of science."


Changing the Conversation about Nature

IMPACT Magazine - Event Recap (see event)

"Among questions raised were: How should we define environmental ethics? What does nature mean to groups of people with different levels of privilege? Is environmental aesthetics a normative projection onto nature, or a dialogue interacting with economic, social, and political conditions?"


Nature in the Anthropocene

SASFrontiers - Event Recap (see event)

"The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH), which aims to generate knowledge about the environment and sustainability by bridging the sciences and the humanities, brought together a diverse group of activists, faculty, and students for the Urban Nature, Natural City event on April 10."


"Eco-vention" on the Delaware

The Art Blog - WetLand Overview

"Michael [Carroll] follows artist and environmentalist Mary Mattingly and several co-collaborators into an exploration of self-sufficiency on the Delaware River."



New fellowship aims to prove environmental sustainability goes beyond the numbers

The Daily Pennsylvanian - PPEH Overview

"The field of environmental sustainability is about more than just science. The recently launched Penn Program in Environmental Humanities Fellowship aims to convey the facts and numbers in more relatable ways to revolutionize the way we think about sustainability."


Penn community celebrates #ICAFreeForAll

ICA Philadelphia - Event Recap (see event)

"It brought in all types of Penn students and faculty as well as members of the Philly community."


The source for all images is the corresponding article linked in the title (left side)