Drexel’s environmental collaboration will solve environmental problems with a community-driven, justice-centered approach
Drexel University, in partnership with the Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences, has launched a new platform, The Environmental Collaboratory, focused on climate change, environmental justice, and human well-being. Drawing on its deep research expertise, long-standing relationships with external partners, and deep commitment to civic engagement, Drexel and the Academy will bring together faculty, staff, students, industry partners, and industry public to seek cross-disciplinary and community-based solutions to environmental problems.
The Environmental Collaboratory will support integrated approaches across the often disparate fields of finance, entrepreneurship, engineering, business, law, politics, public health, medicine, data and technology information, history, infrastructure design and management, and civil and human rights.
Vice Rector and Executive Director Mathy Vathanaraj Stanislaus, a former fellow at the World Economic Forum and a senior Obama administration official, will lead The Environmental Collaboratory. The Stanislaus Fellowship focuses on climate mitigation and adaptation, scaling clean energy and electric mobility, environmentally just transitions, and the power of multi-stakeholder designed solutions.
“Today’s challenges – as recently highlighted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference – demand that we all work together to merge our collective expertise, networks and cross-generational knowledge to create actionable equitable solutions that work on the ground,” Stanislaus said.
“The Climate Conference’s focus on climate justice, just transition, community leadership in finding solutions, and the leadership role of young people reinforces the value of The Environmental Collaboratory. I am honored to help make this happen with the leaders of today and tomorrow – our students, the deep expertise of our faculty and researchers, and our community partners.
The Environmental Collaboratory plays an important and leading role in advancing the vision of the Drexel 2030 strategic plan to design the future through the innovative integration of education, scholarship, diverse partnerships and our global community. The Environmental Collaboratory’s mission revolves around three key areas: use-inspired research, civic engagement focused on social justice, and community building.
User Inspired Research: initiates, facilitates and promotes multidisciplinary teams to help advance user-inspired research for the creation of new solutions to real-world environmental problems. Faculty, staff, and students collaborate with external groups in mutually beneficial partnerships based on scholarship and consistent with the roles and missions of Drexel and the Academy.
Civic engagement: identifies research questions in reciprocal partnerships with communities; engages communities in the research process; designs, incubates and delivers implementation strategies with communities; shares results with a wider audience; shapes beliefs and values through public programs and campaigns; and erodes the power dynamics that typically characterize the relationship between “academics” and “community”.
Community building: builds a community at Drexel, acting as a place where faculty, staff, and interested students can gather, connect, and engage with these issues and our communities.
One of The Environmental Collaboratory’s first projects, supported by the inaugural Glenmede Environmental Collaboratory Research Fund, will be an assessment of the progress and actions needed to reduce lead poisoning in West Philadelphia. To date, studies have found that while lead poisoning is decreasing in some areas of Philadelphia, rates remain high in the Overbrook area of West Philadelphia. Stefanie A. Kroll, PhD, assistant research professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and head of the watershed ecology section at the Academy, will collaborate with Jerome Shabazz, executive director of the Overbrook Environmental Education Center, to help understand what practices have led to lower blood lead concentrations (CSP) in other regions.
Glenmede oversees $43.5 billion in assets under management for Private Wealth, Endowment & Foundation and Investment Management clients from its headquarters in Philadelphia as well as offices in Ohio, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pittsburgh and Washington DC. Glenmede works with high net worth individuals, families, family offices, endowments, foundations and institutional clients.
“We are thrilled to partner with Drexel to launch the Glenmede Collaborative Environmental Research Fund, seeking to bring about change to environmental issues right here in our backyard,” said Mark Hays, Director of Sustainable Investing. and impact at Glenmede. “We believe that this year’s project’s focus on reducing lead poisoning in West Philadelphia will raise awareness and provide scalable solutions to a problem with significant effects on our environment and the health of our people. children.”