The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) is dedicated to understanding our shared humanity, our world, and our universe through fundamental research and education in the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences. Research and education on the threat of climate change to humans and to our planetary environment are central to the SAS commitment and are reflected in a broad array of existing and emerging programs and initiatives in the School itself and in its partnerships across Penn.

Energy, Sustainability, and the Environment is a pillar of the SAS strategic plan and guides our academic planning for and investment in research and education on climate change. SAS is also the lead school in Penn’s Energy and Sustainability Initiative, partnering across the University in supporting existing and new faculty whose research and teaching will lead the transformation to a stable and livable climate.

Since 2015, the SAS commitment to research and education on energy and sustainability has led to more than 15 faculty appointments in seven SAS academic departments across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and further faculty recruitment is ongoing. Important discoveries and insights are being made in many parts of the School, including in research centers that are wholly devoted to these topics: the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology; the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities; the Penn Water Center; and the newly established Penn Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media, which is extending and deepening Penn’s public engagement and communication in pursuit of a sustainable, livable Earth.

Education on climate and sustainability is central to the liberal arts mission of the School. Existing educational programs related to climate and sustainability include the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Environmental Studies major, the Environmental Humanities minor, the Master of Environmental Studies, the Master of Science in Applied Geosciences, and the Certificate in Climate Change in the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program in the division of Liberal and Professional Studies.

SAS is committed to communicating to the public the urgency of the climate crisis and the agency that exists in our efforts at collective action. Since 2019, the School has hosted an annual series of 1.5-minute Climate Lectures dedicated to raising awareness of climate change and motivating action. These talks, spanning the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, have included faculty, staff, and students from across the University and remain available to the public on Vimeo and YouTube.

SAS looks forward to continuing to collaborate and partner with other groups, centers, institutes, and colleges at Penn to help raise our visibility as one of the leading institutions for the study of the scientific, political, sociological, technological and ethical dimensions of the climate crisis and climate solutions.

September 2022