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Environmental Humanities from the Tidal Schuylkill River

Seminar Leader:
Bethany Wiggin


This place-based seminar began with an exploration of the lower, tidal Schuylkill River. We visited the River, walked along it and boated on it, and considered the following questions: How do we know and understand this place where industrial zones intersect with recreational paths, where hardened embankments are increasingly waterlogged? What kinds of information do we, who work and perhaps live in the Schuylkill watershed, have available to us? What kinds of information might we wish to have? How are legacies from the Schuylkill’s past flowing into the future? Readings and classroom activities–including mini-lectures, guest presenters, group discussions, and project-based learning–deepened our understanding of the tidal river. The readings drew from fields including environmental science, anthropology, history and the arts, philosophy and ethics, and they allowed us to scale our discussions up and out, across other spaces. Is there a “littoral [coastal] way of life” as some historians and anthropologists have argued? What other watery places and liquid histories might productively be compared and brought into dialogue with the estuarine communities of the Schuylkill? Who has a right to the Schuylkill? Does the river itself have rights?

Unit TitleAuthor


Lead Town Hall

Freda/Frankie Anderson
Keywords: activism, environment, Health, social studies, STEM

Noticing and Wondering, Who Decides How a River is Made?

Vicki Baker
Keywords: algebra, climate change, mathematics, Philadelphia, Schuylkill River

Reading, Writing, Rivers: An Interdisciplinary Environmental Humanities Unit for Middle School Students with Learning Disabilities

Emma Connolly
Keywords: learning disbability, Reading, writing

Ebbs and Flows: The Schuylkill River a Symbol of Rivers Everywhere

Taylor Franko
Keywords: pollution, rivers, Schuylkill River, symbol

A Place Based Climate Change Exploration for Middle School

Rachel Odoroff
Keywords: climate activists, climate change, climate literacy, Philadelphia

Environmental Humanities Through the Lens of a Math Teacher

Tracy Saltz
Keywords: carbon dioxide, environmental humanities, Math, Philadelphia, pollution, Schuylkill River

The Tidal Schuylkill As A Teaching and Learning Resource For Chemistry, Physical Science and Biology

Bobby E. Stewart
Keywords: Chemistry, environment, Physical Science, pollution, Schuylkill River

Freshwater Ecology in Philadelphia

Elizabeth Szablya
Keywords: Ecology, freshwater, Physical Science, Schuylkill River, Wissahickon Creek

This is the Story of a River

Chelsea Trainor
Keywords: environment, interdisciplinary, reading skills, self contained, writing skills