In 2017-2018, PPEH's research, workshops, seminars, performances, and public engagement projects want to know: â€œHow Did We Get Here?” We invite you to think it over and consider some other timely questions too:

If things seem bad now, when did they start going wrong? How do we get out of here? What constitutes improvement? Decline? What qualitative standards and quantitative metrics do we use to decide? How do origins point at some causes while concealing others? Can starting points help focus responsibility? How do stories of rise and fall spark hope or instill despair? How does our periodization of the past shape our imagination of the future?

2017-18 PPEH Fellows

EH Fellows from different graduate groups and disciplines meet weekly to share research, collaborate on public humanities projects, write and edit the fellow's blog, and plan and organize events, (un)conferences, and installations. 

Regional Faculty Working Group on EnvHum

Faculty from Penn and from the Philadelphia region's universities and colleges meet bi-monthly to present their ongoing research and to develop collaborative, interdisciplinary environmental seminars on the edge between the arts and sciences. This group is co-facilitated by this year's Topic Director, Etienne Benson, and Faculty Director, Bethany Wiggin.    

Storytelling BUILDS Data Refuge

With a grant from the National Geographic Society, the Storytelling Builds Data Refuge project sustains the bucket brigades of Data Rescuers' efforts to preserve existing federal climate and environmental data by documenting how that data is put to work in local communities. 

Schuylkill River Research Seminar, GUIDES, EXHIBITIONS, AND CORPS

Co-convened by Peter DeCarlo (Drexel), Danielle Redden (Bartram's Garden), and Prof. Bethany Wiggin (Penn), and coordinated by Joanne Douglas, this bi-weekly research seminar hosts academics, researchers, professionals, and students to share their research about, in, and along the tidal, lower Schuylkill River and the Delaware River Valley. We're building a growing public archive for the many kinds of information and data needed to know a river's past, present, and imagine its future. Our mobile river exhibition and river guides (coming in print, as an app, on a website, and in-person tours) draw on this public archive. 

Rising Waters

This collaborative three-year project, part of Penn's Making a Difference initiative, explores the futures of river and coastal cities in a time where the lines between land and water are muddied all around us. With forecasts of a future unlike times past, the increased propensity for severe storm surges and disrupted weather patterns have unsettled historic relations between land and water in cities. Comparative research projects in Mumbai and Philadelphia collect oral histories and other documents showing how urban residents are reconsidering their relationship with water and articulating more just relations of human and non-human difference in the city. 


A group of artists (TBA 2018) launches collaborative projects in locations on the water across the city. These loosely interconnected projects draw participants' to explore the city's eddies and flows as well as its stiller, deeper pools. 

An Ecotopian Toolkit

This expansive kit of tools recognizes that integrated knowledge production--across the arts and sciences and across and drawing from knowledge located in diverse communities on campuses and far beyond--can address contemporary environmental challenges. Driven by a series of public grant-making competitions, the Toolkit builds on the Ecotopian Toolkit conference from April 2016 and our inaugural micro-grant competition, "Ecotopian Tools for WetLand." A second Philadelphia-area tool-making competition launches in early February 2018. 

Timescales, the Volume

Based on the Timescales conference from October 2016, the volume assembles together academic pieces, personal essays, and creative works to explore questions of ecological temporalities across disciplines.


View last year's experiments, including our year-long theme, Floating on Warmer Waters, in our archives.

Photo Credit: Kate Farquhar