A Note from PEI’s Director

Stephen Pacala ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute
Stephen Pacala and Steve Cosson
Stephen Pacala (left) and Steve Cosson at The Great Immensity on April 17. (Photo: Bentley Drezner)

June is quickly approaching, and soon a record number of students will graduate with Certificates in Environmental Studies. This is an ideal time to reflect upon PEI’s accomplishments and innovations.

PEI undertook an exceptional number of notable collaborations, educational programs and events that deepened environmental awareness and scholarship, and fostered a broader understanding of the acute and intransigent nature of global environmental problems. This has been one of PEI’s most enterprising years, and we are pleased to share our exciting news with faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends.

As the interdisciplinary center of environmental education and outreach on campus, PEI is uniquely positioned to work with a variety of talented partners to develop visionary projects. One such project was the new work-in-progress theater production about climate change called The Great Immensity. Beginning in September, PEI collaborated with The Lewis Center for the Arts and the New York investigative Theater, The Civilians, to bring this remarkable and noteworthy project to fruition. Involving the stage production and a new undergraduate environmental theater course, this collaboration resulted in a stronger bond between the sciences and the humanities, catalyzed an innovative use of resources, and stimulated numerous discussions about the challenging field of climate communications.

PEI’s learning environment develops each student’s capacity to make connections to the real world. This year, PEI offered a number of new environmental studies (ENV) courses that integrated innovative approaches to education while having a considerable impact on both students and members of the global community. Several articles inside tell the story of these cutting-edge courses.

In addition to the knowledge students acquire by taking PEI’s environmental studies courses, PEI also offers many other opportunities for students to conduct original research of exceptional quality. For instance, two of the most noteworthy are Sarah Chambliss ’10 and Josephine Walker ’10, ENV certificate students who were awarded Colvin Funds last May as juniors. Inside they describe the ambitious and compelling senior theses research they were able to conduct in Kenya as a result of the Colvin funding they received through PEI.

In an informative article, Shana Weber, Princeton University’s Sustainability Manager, describes several new steps Princeton is taking to increase environmental awareness and inspire behavioral change on our campus.

Looking ahead, this summer the PEI/Grand Challenges Internship Program will sponsor over 110 interns who will travel across the globe to engage in invaluable experiential learning opportunities in a variety of environmental fields. We wish them much success and look forward to learning about their experiences and findings at the annual Summer of Learning Symposium in the fall.