Over 30 faculty at the University of Pennsylvania teach courses in the environmental humanities. Now, Penn undergraduates can declare a minor in this growing field!
The environmental humanities minor in the School of Arts & Sciences gives Penn students the opportunity to work across disciplines and explore how knowledge systems represent and respond to past and present environments, ecologies, places and worlds at a variety of scales. The minor emphasizes change and transformation, rather than stable states and received disciplinary borders. Students enroll in one transdisciplinary touchstone course co-taught by at least two faculty working individually in distinct disciplinary traditions and together to model cross-disciplinary knowledge-making. In the Fall of 2020, this course was taught by anthropologist Dr. Kristina Lyons and toxicologist Dr. Marilyn Howarth. Check out this video about this course:
Outcomes from the Transdisciplinary Touchstone Course
During the global pandemic and online teaching, Profs. Kristina Lyons and Marilyn Howarth co-taught the touchstone course for the Environmental Humanities minor. Beyond introducing students to transdisciplinary modes of communication and environmental humanities analytical frameworks, they focused the course around building a public engaged collaboration with community organizations and civil society initiatives in Colombia. The final project for the class resulted in a bilingual Digital Environmental Justice Storytelling platform that invites people to learn how different communities in Colombia engage with the arts and sciences in their activism and daily life to navigate environmental health uncertainties, defend territories, and transform urban and rural life conditions.
Click here to learn more about the methodologies and outcomes of the transdisciplinary touchstone course.
In the Spring 2023 semester, Profs. Kristina Lyons and Marilyn Howarth co-taught the touchstone course again. As a result of the course’s focus on community engagement, the students developed a special edition series of The Canopy, PPEH’s podcast. The final project, called EJ Philly, produced three podcast episodes that focus on environmental (in)justice in Philadelphia. The students interviewed community members and subject matter experts about urban heat islands, urban farming, and oil refining. Listen in to learn about Philadelphians’ struggle to create an environmentally equitable city and our pathways to creating a better future.
Students will also choose at least one course from pre-approved course lists in the environmental sciences and social sciences as well as two courses in humanistic approaches to environmental inquiry. The EH minor emphasizes arts-driven inquiry into place and world-making and, with a public engagement requirement, also insists on the importance of various methods of public research and outcomes--from field work to community-based participatory research, to art and science exhibits and evidence-driven advocacy. This requirement may be fulfilled by enrolling in one of a pre-approved list of courses that include rigorous public engagement or with independent community-based research projects. Finally, all EH minors will participate in a collaboratory capstone on public environmental humanities.
2 Courses in Arts & Humanities Approaches to Environmental Inquiry
1 Course in Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry
1 Course in Natural Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry
Public Engagement Requirement (Choose a pre-approved course, or fulfill with independent study, credit-bearing summer project or other course with significant community-based research or service component, with approval)
Capstone Course (an EH collaboratory for public research)
Questions? Write to PPEH Faculty Director Bethany Wiggin (firstname.lastname@example.org)