Update on The Philadelphia Area Environmental Justice Curriculum Hub

March 23, 2021

PPEH's Davy Knittle (Graduate Fellow) and Andrew Niess (Mellon Dissertation Fellow) recap recent work on their developing project, The Philadelphia Area Environmental Justice Curriculum Hub, a living archive of resources for connecting middle and high school students with sites of environmental justice advocacy in and around Philadelphia.

call for submissions flyer with leaves growing from a round shape

On February 3rd, 2021, we convened a PPEH Working Wednesdays session to invite others to collaboratively brainstorm our project in development, the Philadelphia Area Environmental Justice Curriculum Hub. The goal of the Hub is to gather and organize curricular resources for environmental justice education at the secondary school and college level developed by educators in schools, universities, and environmental centers across the Philadelphia area. 

In the Working Wednesdays session, we were joined by over 30 participants engaged in environmental justice education in the Philadelphia area. Participants included PPEH public research interns, and graduate fellows, as well as program coordinators Mia D’Avanza and Angela Faranda and faculty director Bethany Wiggin. Faculty from Haverford College, Temple University, Bryn Mawr College, and Penn State Brandywine also attended the session to think with us about programs at their institutions, and how they might use and contribute to the Hub. We were also joined by environmental educators including Tarsha Scovens, team leader of Let’s Go Outdoors; Erin McCool, Director of Education and Strategic Initiatives at Riverbend Environmental Education Center; as well as Christy Schneider, Exhibition Projects Manager at Science History Institute.

The goal of the conversation was to think together about how the EJ Hub might best connect existing projects and organize its resources to make them useful to environmental educators working in a range of institutional contexts. One key feature of the project that many participants mentioned would be helpful to them is a set of organizational profiles that identify environmental centers and other institutional partners for environmental justice units in secondary schools and in university classrooms. These profiles, which we are currently developing and plan to release with the initial launch of the EJ Hub in May 2021, will provide short interviews with environmental educators in the Philadelphia area, as well as information about how interested instructors can connect, collaborate, and involve their students. 


An invitation

We would like to extend an invitation to participate in the Hub and to reach out to us, especially if:

•    you or your organization offer resources for connecting teachers and students to Philadelphia area environmental justice advocacy,

•    you are interested in speaking about your work or your organization’s work,

•    you are a student with work you would like to share,

•    you are a teacher with course materials, class projects, or other relevant work you would like to share.

For submissions, questions, or just to connect, please contact us directly at aniess@sas.upenn.edu (Andrew) and dknittle@sas.upenn.edu (Davy), or use this form.


Moving forward

This project is still in its early stages. During our time as PPEH fellows, we hope to lay groundwork for the Hub so that it may foster connections between Philadelphia area students, educators, and environmental justice advocates. When our fellowship term ends, we will leave behind a roadmap for next actions so that future PPEH fellows may tend to the project.

In future updates, we plan to talk about the submissions we receive and how the Hub will take form online. We will discuss these updates in a follow-up Working Wednesday session on May 5, 2021.