The manifesto


Our nature has never been natural. The history of sustainability has been the history of fragmentation: science and the humanities, their generation and our generation, abstraction and action.

We seek to shape the new normal by cultivating curiosity, exploring emotion, and igniting innovation.

Who are we?

We are a collective of scholars, students, artists, scientists, and educators whose mission is to generate local and global awareness and engagement in the emergent area of the environmental humanities.

We are storytellers, weaving the common roots of our natural heritage into an interdisciplinary narrative. We aim to be a bridge between islands, a thread among branches, a lab for reflection and action.

We are the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities.


The story


Born of students' desires for a more permanent place for environmental dialogue across disciplines, the Program in Environmental Humanities was founded in 2014 by the combined forces of Penn professor Bethany Wiggin and student Leah Davidson to create a fresh and unique forum for work on environmental issues.

With start-up funding from the Green Campus Partnership, in our first year we supported research fellowships. Those first Fellows collaborated to write a Program manifesto, build this website, and organize public programming on urban nature at Penn in cooperation with the Penn Humanities Forum as well as partners in Philadelphia, the Delaware and Schuylkill River Valleys, along the eastern seaboard, and across the globe. 

In year two, we hosted our inaugural artist in residence, Mary Mattingly, opened our Lab at WetLand on the tidal Schuylkill River, and offered a series of five major public public events exploring the environmental humanities: the Curriculum for the New Normal. 

Now in year three, PPEH enjoys generous support from the Dean's Office of the School of Arts & Sciences as well as the Green Campus Partnership. We have embarked on a series of faculty hires for a minimum of three positions in the environmental humanities, all tenure track at the assistant professor level. We run a Faculty Working Group, host new artists in residence, offer competitive year-long research fellowships to graduate and undergraduate students across all Penn's schools, and organize a broad array of public engagement projects--from a conference on ecological time across the human and natural sciences; to the broadly interdisciplinary Lower Schuykill River Research Seminar; to the assemblage of an Ecotopian Toolkit and Tools to Restore WetLand in a time of rapid climate change; to an installation-as-mobile-archive that is easily re-installed and added to by our community partners; to creating research-quality copies of federal climate and environmental data and building Data Refuge.

We are proud of the success we've garnered and the opportunities before us. But to continue our core mission, we need your help.


Image Copyright: Austin Bream