Senate Select Committee on the Institutional Response to the Climate Emergency CIRCE
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The Faculty Senate Select Committee on the Institutional Response to the Climate Emergency (CIRCE) was established in December 2019 for the purpose of facilitating discussion of all aspects of global warming and climate change as they pertain to faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.
Other CIRCE Publications
- Resolution Recommending Actions to be taken by University Administration and the Board of Trustees (Endorsed by the Senate Executive Committee on November 10, 2021)
- CIRCE Report (July 13, 2021)
- CIRCE Report (May 26, 2020)
CIRCE launched in December 2019 with the expectation that it will continue its work in subsequent years. CIRCE’s fundamental charge is to facilitate discussion of all aspects of global warming and climate change as they pertain to the faculty role in shared governance at the University of Pennsylvania. Specifically, CIRCE will consider at least the following categories of faculty interest as it pertains to the climate emergency at Penn:
- Education, including classroom instruction as well as extra-curricular educational activities
- Research, including as well scholarship, practical expertise, and artistic expression
- Operations of the University, including decarbonization, energy efficiency, and sustainability
- Flourishing of community, both within Penn, and between Penn and its regional and international stakeholders
The Committee shall have the power to present reports and recommendations to the Senate on any matter relating to its charges. The Committee shall be governed in its responsibilities and procedures by rules established by the Faculty Senate. The Committee’s work will be reviewed on a yearly basis by the Senate Executive Committee.
The Committee will consider and report CIRCE’s recommendations regarding its continued charges and operation subsequent to the 2019/20 academic year. Comment: Fully addressing the charges to CIRCE is a task that can hardly be completed successfully by a single committee in half of an academic year. The upshot of this specific charge is to request that CIRCE address the issue of how the general issues of the Committee should be addressed going forward.
The Committee will recommend expansion of CIRCE’s membership to the Tri-Chairs, as appropriate for improving the expertise and representativeness of its membership.
Time permitting, the Committee will consider and report on key issues in any and all categories of faculty interest, not necessarily limited to the four identified in the general charges. For example:
- Education. What processes and policies might be put into place to ascertain student needs and faculty interests in education pertaining to the climate emergency (and sustainability), and to best align them and implement programs? What are attractive options for realizing this goal, given the very broad range of research, scholarship, expertise, and artistic expression that pertains to the climate emergency and flourishes at Penn? For example, should cross-school educational programs (e.g., majors and concentrations) be established with cross-school supervision?
- Research. Given the very broad range of research, scholarship, expertise, and artistic expression that pertains to the climate emergency, and considering Penn’s existing strengths, likely impact, and likely funding availability, identify opportunities to improve support for specific areas of research (as broadly characterized above).
- Operations. What policies and programs might be implemented to reduce Penn’s carbon footprint? Is there existing data on Penn’s carbon footprint that should be publicly posted and made available for comment, teaching, and research at Penn? If so, what guidance can be given regarding accessibility, including documentation and format? Is there data pertaining to Penn’s carbon footprint that can be collected but presently is not being collected? If so, how might it be collected and how should it be publicly posted and made available for comment, teaching, and research at Penn? What guidance can be given regarding accessibility, including documentation and format?
- Community. Should the Faculty Senate pass a resolution recognizing the climate emergency? If so, what should that resolution say? Recognizing the ongoing dynamic, fluid, and multidisciplinary nature of research, teaching, and entrepreneurship pertaining to the climate emergency, what practices and policies might be implemented to optimize effective information flow among interested parties to the end of promoting discovery and fruition of collective opportunities? What practices and policies might be implemented to support formation of groups of interested parties, and to help them to flourish and find “homes” at Penn? Recognizing that Penn offers and receives benefits through local and global interactions, what practices and policies might be implemented to optimize effective information flow among interested parties to the end of promoting discovery and fruition of collective opportunities?
The Committee will consider for attention any of the extended list of questions assembled for the December 2019 meeting of SEC. This list of questions is available here.
Finally, CIRCE is encouraged to think creatively and flexibly in discharging its responsibilities. Are there additional resources and sources of information—within Penn or without—that would materially assist the Committee, were they available?
- Erol Akçay (Associate Professor of Biology)
- Herman Beavers (Professor of English and Africana Studies)
- William Braham (Professor of Architecture), Chair
- Alison Buttenheim (Associate Professor of Nursing and Assistant Professor of Health Policy)
- Thomas Daniels (Professor of City and Regional Planning)
- Jared Farmer (Professor of History)
- Tulia Falleti (Faculty Senate Chair and Class of 1965 Endowed Term Professor of Political Science)
- Eric Feldman (Faculty Senate Chair-Elect and Heimbold Chair in International Law)
- Vivian Gadsden (Faculty Senate Past Chair and William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education)
- De'Broski Herbert (Associate Professor of Pathobiology)
- Sarah Hope Kagan (Professor of Gerontological Nursing)
- Steven Kimbrough (Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions)
- Amy Kogon (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)
- Michael Mann (Presidential Distinguished Professor of Earth and Environmental Science)
- Irina Marinov (Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science)
- Michael McGarvey (Associate Professor of Neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania)
- Eric Orts (Guardsmark Professor, Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics, and Professor of Management)
- Nicholas Pevzner (Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture)
- Benjamin Pierce (Professor of Computer and Information Science)
- Jennifer Pinto-Martin (Viola MacInnes/Independence Professor of Nursing)
- Simon Richter (Class of 1942 Endowed Term Professor of German)
- Akira Drake Rodriguez (Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning)
- Misha Rosenbach (Professor of Dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania)
- Eric Stach (Professor of Materials Science and Engineering)
- Franca Trubiano (Associate Professor of Architecture)
- Michael Weisberg (Professor and Chair of Philosophy)
- Bethany Wiggin (Associate Professor of German)
- Non-voting members:
- Jane Dmochowski (Senior Lecturer of Earth and Environmental Science)
- William Fleming (Wilks Family Director, The McHarg Center)
- Andrew Huemmler (Senior Lecturer of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
- Howard Neukrug (Professor of Practice of Earth and Environmental Science)
- Anne Reilly (Professor of Clinical Pediatrics)
- Hari Shankar (Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine: Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine)
- Julia Tchou (Professor of Clinical Surgery)
CIRCE maintains several active subcommittees including faculty who do not participate on the main committee. Below are current subcommittee membership lists.
Subcommittee Co-Chairs: Benjamin Pierce and Simon Richter
Akira Drake Rodriguez
The aim of CIRCE:Medicine is to increase the role of all healthcare providers across the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in combating the climate crisis, in line with CIRCE's mission. Our group is specifically dedicated to taking action against climate change through the lens of healthcare - through its education, research, and advocacy - with the ultimate goal of decreasing the carbon footprint of our health system.
Subcommittee Co-Chairs: Misha Rosenbach and Hari Shankar
See separate webpage for membership info.
Subcommittee Chair: Michael McGarvey
Kirstin Knox (Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine)
Anne Reilly (Professor of Clinical Pediatrics)
Michelle Walker (Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine: Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism)
Subcommittee Chair: Michael Weisberg
Caroline Cox (Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology)