The Understory Newsletter and Community Board

Purple, pink, blue vibrant sunset with the dark silhoutte of a tree in the foreground, photo by Andrew Niess

Read back issues of The Understory here. Subscribe for new issues in your inbox bi-weekly!

Fall 2021 Events Calendar

October 5, 2021, Vol 15

Fall 2021 Newsletter

August 25, 2021, Vol 14

July 29, 2021, Vol 13

July 13, 2021, Vol 12

June 26, 2021, Vol 11

May 25, 2021, Vol 10

May 6, 2021, Vol 9

April 21, 2021, Vol 8

April 7, 2021, Vol 7

March 25, 2021, Vol 6

March 9, 2021, Vol 5

February 23, 2021, Vol 4

February 10, 2021, Vol 3

January 25, 2021, Vol 2

December 21, 2021, Vol 1


Current Community Items


Global Water Alliance

On Saturday, October 9, 2021, the Global Water Alliance with Thomas Jefferson University will convene its virtual 14th Annual Conference titled, “Securing the Green to Make it Clean: Funding for Sustainable Sanitation.” The conference—the theme of which draws its inspiration from the 2020 launch of the United Nations-affiliated Sanitation and Hygiene Fund—will bring speakers from across the finance sector to address the modernization of traditional funding sources, as well as the innovations needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for all. The conference will place significant emphasis on solving WASH inequities in particular, so that no one is “left behind” on the path to 2030. Speakers will address topics including multi-donor trust funds, domestic resource mobilization, social impact investing and microfinance, and cryptocurrency, among other areas and their important role in accelerating progress toward universal WASH access. Info and registration


Making Stories Visible


Saturday-Sunday October 16-17, 2021, 9:00am - 2:00pm

For 20 years, the Philadelphia Writing Project has convened A Celebration of Writing and Literacy, an annual conference presented by and for Philadelphia educators. Join local educators online for two days of learning, reflection, and joy as we share promising practices and resources for supporting writing and literacy among young people!

This year's conference theme is “Making Stories Visible: A Celebration of Writing and Literacy.” The conference is co-hosted by the Philadelphia Writing Project, the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia (TIP)Penn GSE, and the Penn Museum. Register here!



The Multispecies Kinesthetic: Theorizing Epidemic Media 

October 20, 2021, 12pm est


One of the enduring legacies of the sudden emergence of pathogenic viruses (Hanta, Marburg, Ebola, and HIV) in the late twentieth century is the ecological orientation toward global pandemics. These periodic non-linear crisis-events appear unavoidable because of unabated anthropogenic change—everything from continuing habitat fragmentation (e.g. deforestation) to human practices (industrial agriculture to illegal wildlife trading). We know that 60.3% of emerging infectious disease events are zoonotic spillovers and, among these, 71.3% originate from wildlife. In context of this environmental turn, I examine epidemic media that track animal host traffic movements “in the wild” to compose a multispecies kinesthetic. Drawing on HIV epidemic media, I focus on two modalities of the multispecies kinesthetic. First, epidemiologist and wildlife biologist, Anne Laudisoit’s embedded tracking media as she follows primates at the DR Congo and Uganda border; and second, the curation of multispecies assemblies as “threatening ecologies” in the Feral Atlas project. The point is to theorize epidemic media as they strive for greater technical precision, but ultimately enable a sensuous multispecies entanglement.

Bishnupriya Ghosh teaches global media at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published two monographs, When Borne Across: Literary Cosmopolitics in the Contemporary Indian Novel (Rutgers UP, 2004) and Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular (Duke Up, 2011) on global media cultures. Her current work on media, risk, and globalization includes the co-edited Routledge Companion to Media and Risk (Routledge 2020) and a new monograph, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media (under contract with Duke University Press).

RAIR residency open call flyer

Visit for a tour and application!


Downstream exhibit at the Science History Museum

The Science History Institute Museum invites you to visit Downstream: a new exhibition that examines more than 200 years of water analysis and water protection. See fine art, advertisements, films, posters, and photographs that captured efforts to understand our water. Also, visitors learn how the Institute uses objects as diverse as wooden pipes; scientific instruments; insects; and a 16-foot, 1964 model of the Delaware River basin to reveal the historical relationships between knowledge, activism, and action.