PPEH Announces '20-'21 Topic Director: Daniel A. Barber

December 19, 2019

The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities is delighted to announce our next topic director, Daniel A. Barber, who will curate a slate of public events in academic year 2020-2021 around the topic Transition/Transformation.

PPEH Annual Topic '20-'21:Transition/Transformation

Climate instability presents a complex challenge to social and cultural norms. At the heart of this challenge: how to encourage and effect a transition towards a world less dependent on fossil fuel. This transition exceeds adjustments to daily behaviors and to large scale infrastructures, and elicits ambitions towards a more consequential cultural transformation. Much of the discourse on energy transition focuses on how infrastructures can be reconfigured without dramatic effects on daily life: solar panels and electric vehicles, for example, endeavor to continue familiar patterns and behaviors while reducing carbon output. The expanded challenge and opportunity of transformation frames the climate challenge as a pathway towards a different kind of society, one that is at once more equitable and less carbon intensive. How do the technologies and tactics of transition open up to this possibility of transformation? The topic focus on Transition/Transformation will oscillate between discussions of practical pathways for a just energy transition and conceptual frameworks towards encouraging cultural transformation.

Daniel Barber headshot

Daniel A. Barber is Associate Professor and Chair of the Graduate Group in Architecture at the Weitzman School of Design. His research explores historical relationships between architecture and global environmental culture, reframing architectural expertise towards a more robust engagement with the climate crisis. His book Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning will be published in 2020. He has held fellowships at Harvard University, Princeton University, and through the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He edits the Accumulation series on e-flux architecture.

Dr. Barber has also served on the PPEH Faculty Working Group and, in 2019, on the Curricular Task Force that developed the new undergraduate minor in environmental humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences.