Schuylkill Research Seminar

A research seminar organized by Bartram's Garden, Drexel Air Resources Research Lab, and the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities

Source: Peter DeCarlo


Founded in April 2016, the Schuylkill River and Urban Waters Corps is an informal collective of academic, non-profit, civic and community organizations. Based in Philadelphia, we are devoted to exploring and stewarding urban waters past and present. The Corps is currently fostering collaborations in other cities, including Mumbai and New York, and we are building a digital archive for our members' varied work: contributing, collecting, and curating oral histories; developing a variety of tours, both on-line and in-person; measuring air and water quality; and designing and building an array of citizen science and public humanities projects to discover and document the waters--and invite considerations of how they will exist in the future.


In collaboration with artist Mary Mattingly and collaborators at Bartram’s Garden, Wiggin holds a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship from January to June 2017 in support of a multi-disciplinary project called Floating on Warmer Waters. It explores the complex relationship of people and nature on the Lower Schuylkill River, home to both refineries and bird sanctuaries. In conjunction with the WetLand Project (2015-), co-organized by Redden and Wiggin with project founder Mattingly, two visioning meetings “to build wetland” were held at Bartram’s Garden, in December 2015 and April 2016. Participants included faculty from universities and colleges in the watershed, representatives from Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the National Parks Service, Fish and Wildlife, and others. From these meetings, a core group of river research collaborators emerged (listed below). The idea to develop a tour app emerged from these meetings and DeCarlo led a successful proposal to the Drexel ExCITe Center to obtain seed funding for the development of a collaborative audio based smartphone tour of the Lower Schuylkill River to use while walking, biking, or boating that integrates the history, ecology, community, and measured environmental parameters.

In conjunction with the PPEH conference on ecological Timescales in October 2016, PPEH Coordinator Patricia Kim, Ph.D. Candidate in History of Art, curated Date/um, a week-long show installed in Penn Libraries. Date/um documents the core group’s current research on the multiple timescales and historical frames (dates, datum and data) needed to understand the river. The show will move to Bartram’s Garden and other sites in late 2016 and into 2017; digital publication is currently in preparation.

The research seminar builds upon this present core to include more researchers with the twin aims of 1) promoting and connecting regional Schuylkill River and urban waters research across communities and ways of knowing; and 2) expanding a collaborative archive for present and future river research designed too to be used by community partners in need of curriculum to support existing water-based programs and new initiatives.

New members are always welcome. To join, please contact: We also have a google group

Schuylkill Corps Archive

On-Water Intensive

Ecotopian Toolkit

Eastwick Oral History Kiosk



Schuylkill River and Urban Waters Corps Partners

Schuylkill Corps Partners