We are the World - USA for Africa, 1985

"We can’t go on, pretending day by day, that someone, somewhere will soon make a change."

While this song was launched to aid famine in Africa about thirty years ago, the lyrics continue to resonate to this day.  The various faces profiled throughout this blog show that individuals realize that they are part of a larger whole. Just like the artists featured in this song, the students take their particular talents and interests and channel them into making a change.  No individual can overcome this struggle with climate change on their own.  Only by coming together and contributing what we are able, can we as humans move toward a sustainable future.

Sustainable Face #12: Patrick Kearney, UPenn ‘15

Patrick is studying Finance at the Wharton School for Business.  His interests in business inspired him to find innovation on the level of sustainability.  Through his research, he examined the effectiveness of gamification and its ability to incentivize individuals to action.  He applies this gamified model to sustainable initiatives and his project offers suggestions for their effective implementation.  Like the two previous faces of sustainability, Patrick attempts to look at sustainable initiatives through a different lens.  His model encourages others to go green while also having fun. 

Sustainable Face #11: Rosa Zedek, UPenn ‘14

Rosa is an Ecology major with a Fine Arts minor.  Her work is an original piece of art that explores the visual languages that humans use to describe climate change and environmental degradation.  The base of the picture is Walden Pond, something that Rosa relates to, having spent her summers there as a child.  

I thought it was important to weave this element of the personal into a subject that can sometimes feel so far away and out of our control. I hope that this collage can help viewers begin to bridge the gaps between the personal, the catastrophic, and the  scientific images of climate change that, while readily available to us, often seem so disparate.

                         -Rosa Zedek

By presenting her viewers with an abstract image of art, she is challenging them to look at issues regarding climate change from multiple angles. Rosa and Emma’s (the previous blog post) works are similar in that they both demand a reframing of the conversation and beliefs surrounding climate change.  What might be a good reference point that allows for this reframing?

Sustainable Face #10: Emma Schad, UPenn

Emma is focused on promoting awareness about human skill sets that we value in society and ones that we have alienated.  She is doing this by compiling a basic guide of survival skills for the modern college student in the event of a weather catastrophe such as a flood or snowstorm.  Under these circumstances, Emma plans to demonstrate which skills are truly necessary and valuable.  Her interest in modern survivalist skills stems from the Cli-Fi book “Seal Intestine Raincoat” and GRMN 239, Sustainability and Utopianism, at UPenn.  Emma plans to further spread awareness on modern survivalist movements by writing a thesis next year. Her work raises the question of how we as humans wrongly value traits within society and challenges individuals to rethink these values.

Sustainable Face #9: Karan Hiremath, UPenn ‘16

Karan is a dual degree student enrolled in the Jerome Fisher Program for Management and Technology.  His interests in web development led him to work on Greenvote, a web and mobile feedback platform that provides institutional management information about occupant comfort to promote a comfort-efficiency balance with real time communication.  This communication allows users to vote and present their opinion about building energy usage.  Karan’s overall goal is to use this crowd sentiment over time and correlate it to environmental metrics.  An application like Greenvote will allow users to report if energy is being misused and make buildings more efficient.  Through Karan’s efforts, the crowd is getting a more democratic say in how institutional resources are used.  This application can currently be found at UPenn.      


Sustainable Face #8: Greg Koutnik, PhD in Political Science UPenn
Greg is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.  His concentration on Political Theory and Environmental Thought has led him to an interest in the relationship between politics, economics, culture and the environment.  In order to further demonstrate this connection, Greg is partnering with another graduate student, Andrew Barnard, to create a website that facilitates a discussion about the importance of the environment in politics and society.  Through Greg’s work, an umbrella project under Professor Bethany Wiggin (German Studies, University of Pennsylvania), this website will bridge the gap between professionals and non-academics in an engaging discussion regarding the environment.  Through various forms of multimedia such as blogs, podcasts and lectures, Greg will focus on politics role in environmental problems.  This effort will help to explain the pressures that the environment is facing and possibly explain the obstacles that we must overcome in order to create a sustainable planet. 

Sustainable Face #7: Clare Menzel, UPenn ‘15

Clare is a Philosophy major at the University of Pennsylvania.  While studying Cli-Fi, a genre that focuses on issues surrounding climate change, Clare noticed a critical flaw surrounding the prioritization of premise rather than character.  In order to combat this disappointment, Clare created her own Cli-fi story, one that took powerful characters from the pop culture hit Adventure Time.  By casting these characters in eco-critical circumstances, Clare created a comic that placed familiar characters in unfamiliar situations.  Instead of the story of climate change creating the character, the character breathes the issues of climate change.  Through this concept, teens and college students can connect with the issues and are impacted much more profoundly.  

In an earlier post discussing Andrew Bernier’s radio show, I mentioned that variety is essential in attracting the attention of those interested in conversations about the environment.  Environmental comedy is an effective form of such variety that presents issues in a satirical manner. In the video posted above, the scientists featured discuss the Earth’s polar ice caps melting, or balding as it is humorously presented.  The solution for this issue is to ultimately cover the Earth with a giant wig to cover its balding spot.  Although humor is used in this video, it still looks at a serious problem.  

Ursula Heise discusses this effective use of comedy surrounding ecological change in her work Last Dogs, Last Birds and Listed Species. She claims this “perspective on species endangerment and extinction ultimately suggests a different understanding of the relationship between modernization and nature than most accounts that rely on elegiac or tragic templates (71).”  This human commitment to biological otherness creates an understanding of the environmental change and allows us to move forward with it.  




I have always been one of those nerdy people who gets overly excited about school supplies. When I discovered these highlighters, I was completely beside myself. My poor roommates had to tolerate my ramblings about how cool they were and demonstrations of how they worked even better than the liquid markers I used to be overly attached to.

I am obsessed with these highlighters for a few reasons. Most notably, they do not contain any plastic. They are also free of harmful chemicals and dyes. They smell slightly of wood instead of that horrible chemical highlighter smell. They are made of wood that will easily biodegrade, and they will last quite a while because they cannot dry out. On a practical level, they are great because they travel well, don’t bleed through pages, and are easy to use both to underline or completely color a line. While they do not erase completely if you make a mistake, you can significantly lighten the marking and make it less noticeable. They are also priced well for their durability and the amount of highlighting you can accomplish with each pencil.

For more information or see the other cool colors these highlighters come in, visit Stubby Pencil Studios.

This post is by a college student who realizes that every sustainable measure counts.  In order to protect Earth and our stake in it, we must consider the smallest of impacts, such as eco-friendly highlighters.  Their features, such as no use of chemicals or dye and ability to biodegrade, means that we can use school supplies that take less of a toll on Earth.  


Happy Earth Day!

The Peace Corps works to influence students by creating environmental science lesson plans, creating green space on school grounds and making an educational center out of 7000 recycled plastic bottles with inorganic material.  By promoting environmental awareness they educated students so that they may carry this stewardship forward in their own lives.  


Happy Earth Day!

The Peace Corps works to influence students by creating environmental science lesson plans, creating green space on school grounds and making an educational center out of 7000 recycled plastic bottles with inorganic material.  By promoting environmental awareness they educated students so that they may carry this stewardship forward in their own lives.