A Letter to the PPEH Community from our Faculty Director

March 13, 2020

Dear PPEH Students, Staff, and Faculty,

PPEH's community at Penn is small but our activities filiate across the globe. Whether Penn's closure and efforts to create remote learning opportunities after our extended spring break find you in Ireland (Maggie), Colombia (Alex), Philadelphia (Bethany), or somewhere else, I want to assure you that our team at PPEH stands by to help you navigate these very difficult circumstances, even as we work remotely.

I have been consulting with Penn leaders, and I also find Johns Hopkins's School of Public Health's Coronavirus Resource Center an excellent source of information and practical advice. Maybe you too will find it useful. Please take good care of your community and yourself in these uncertain times. Practice social distancing--and be in touch via social media, email, or just pick up the phone! Now more than ever, as I work at home (with a full house!), I'm eager to hear about what you're reading and writing, and I have no doubt many at PPEH feel the same. Let's practice social distancing but stay in touch.

Many of you had not yet had the chance to meet our newest team member, Program Assistant, Angela Faranda. (I can't wait to introduce you in person in a later month.) Please reach out to Angela, Meg Arenberg, or me if we can help you in some way: Maybe you need someone still in Philadelphia to grab an essential item left on campus? Maybe you need help to re-schedule travel or a planned event? Let us know how we can help. 

Here are some brief updates and changes to PPEH activities beginning the week of Monday, March 23rd:

  • All PPEH Public Research Interns' weekly meetings move online (platform tba), to be held at their regular weekly times. (Stay tuned for follow-up emails to each of our three cohorts.) 
  • All Brown Bag Working Papers Workshops will move to zoom, occurring at their regular time. Nancy Roane's workshop, originally planned for 3/18, will occur in April, tba.
  • Events featuring speakers in the Elements series, directed by Nikhil Anand, including Gabrielle Hecht's upcoming workshop, will occur remotely at previously scheduled times; others, including Professor Hecht's formal lecture, will be re-scheduled for the fall semester. 
  • PPEH's planned "game parlor" at the Philadelphia Science Carnival and the (now cancelled) Climate Week on Penn's campus will move on line, launching on Earth Day, April 22nd. We are eager to see these digital engagements take off in the vacuum of in-person gatherings!
  • Our planned 3-day gathering, May 7-9, "Climate Sensing and Data Storytelling," with our national Data Storytelling partners and guests (in Houston, Baltimore, Oregon, Idaho, New York City, and South Carolina) and a keynote by Amitav Ghosh, will move to the Nearly Carbon Neutral platform developed by environmental humanists at UCSB. We've been wanting to try it out for some time now...  
  • Our mid-May annual meeting of the Strategic Advisory Board will occur as planned; please stay tuned for event specifics. 

So, send us an email or give us a call if we can be of assistance--and do hit us up on social media with what you're reading and writing in these uncertain times.  

In support of your health and well-being and with my best wishes,


Founding Director, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities