Penn is stepping up to address the growing threat of climate change head-on through its recently launched Environmental Innovations Initiative.
The Initiative—led by a cross-disciplinary faculty team that includes Joseph S. Francisco, President’s Distinguished Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Kathleen D. Morrison, Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Professor and Chair of Anthropology—will bring together faculty, researchers, and students from across the University to develop new ideas and solutions for our global environment.
Two energy-focused centers created through philanthropic support will play a pivotal role in the new Environmental Innovations Initiative.
The Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology, housed in Penn Arts & Sciences and founded in 2016 through the generosity of P. Roy (C’50, PAR’90, HON’99) and Diana T. Vagelos (PAR’90), gathers scientists and engineers to advance an aggressive research agenda that encompasses solar, fuel cells, wind, hydrogen fission, and beyond. In 2019, the couple gave an additional $50 million to enable the construction of the Vagelos Laboratory for Energy Science and Technology, which will house the Institute and other cross-disciplinary programs.
The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, established in July 2014 with a gift to the Weitzman School of Design from Scott (C’94, W’94) and Wendy Kleinman, is working to create the conditions for policy innovation that support a just and efficient transition to sustainable energy. Thanks to its impact in just five years, the Kleinman Center also received an anonymous donation of $30 million in 2019 to enhance its continued programming. With additional University support, new energy policy faculty are being hired at Penn.
Additionally, the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH) offers a variety of interdisciplinary courses related to environmental topics, and provides students with the option to earn a minor in Environmental Humanities. The unique program brings together scholars, students, artists, scientists, and educators around a mission to generate local and global awareness and engagement in the environment. Since this program began in 2014, more than 400 sustainability-related courses have been taught across multiple schools at Penn. And in 2019, 121 students graduated with sustainability-related degrees—over twelve times as many as in 2014.
Through active engagement in these Centers and programs, Penn faculty, researchers and students promise to make a vital difference in the future of our environment, supported by The Power of Penn Campaign goal to Drive Energy Solutions.