2021 Fall Curriculum Laboratory

Southwest Native American Art & Culture
Lucy Fowler Williams, Penn Museum
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30pm

This course looks closely at the impacts of settler colonialism to uncover Pueblo and Navajo art’s enduring engagement in supporting health and wellbeing among its practitioners and home communities. The course content is aligned with an upcoming exhibition on the subject at the Barnes Foundation in Spring 2022.  Study and discussion will be oriented around the Albert Barnes’ collection of Historic Southwest Native American art and related collections in the Penn Museum and contemporary art made by many of today’s leading Native American artists.  The course explores Navajo and Pueblo pottery, weaving, and handmade metal silver/turquoise/shell jewelry within its historical and contemporary socio-political contexts of its making and use.  Students will learn to look closely at art and materials, artistic practice, and histories within Native community contexts.  Topics will explore indigenous perspectives, practices, lifestyles, and values, anthropological perspectives, Native American resistance and reclamation, representation, and issues of American history and art sovereignty.  Contemporary Native American artists and resources will be highlighted and a regular part of the course instruction and content.

Topics in Environmental Health
Marilyn Howarth, Penn Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine and Pharmacology
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30pm

Where we live impacts our health. In Philadelphia, air pollution causes heart attacks and asthma, our rivers are too polluted to swim in and more than 1000 children are lead-poisoned every year. By 2050, parts of Philadelphia where people now live are projected to be regularly under water due to climate change. In order to live safely and participate in the political process to improve the environmental health in communities, citizens need actionable information as part of their education. In this seminar, we will explore four areas of risk to our environmental health: climate change, air quality, water quality, and lead exposure. They will be presented in a sequential way so that participants can focus on one topic at a time and develop a unit of study focusing on one topic or several. Attendance is required for at least two of the topics, though it is recommended for all.  Additional individual meetings with faculty are encouraged to develop and tailor curriculum. We will link students to resources and experts for curriculum building and sources to bring into the classroom for demonstration and enrichment.  Strategies for effective communication with City Council members, Department of Environmental Protection regulators and legislators will be included.




How Critical Elements
Make Up our Modern World
Eric Schelter, Penn School of Arts and Sciences
Chemistry Department
Mondays, 4:30-6:30pm

This course explores connections between the chemistry and physics of rare and unusual chemical elements, their presence in our lives in materials that comprise our ubiquitous electronic devices, and the environmental and human impacts of their supply chains. For example, the mysterious ‘rare earth metals’ are chemical elements that are essential in modern applications from renewable energy, to electric cars, imaging in medicine, and cell phone displays. The unique properties of these elements deliver powerful magnets that support wind power and clarity in MRI images. But, despite their many desirable chemical and physical properties, rare earths are extremely polluting in their primary mining and production. We will follow supply chains for these and other ‘critical’ elements back to their sources, to understand how our modern materials needs impact (and often exploit) communities worldwide. And, we will discuss the opportunities for science and engineering to improve this landscape, for example through the development of more environmentally benign mining chemistry and new chemistries to recycle elements from old technologies. The course will aid in the development of materials for science curricula, by connecting chemical concepts to ‘real world’ problems and solutions. The fundamental chemistry and physics concepts including chemical elements, quantum numbers, electron shells, ionic and covalent bonding, luminescence, spin, magnetism, and chemical equilibria, ‘critical materials,’ and others.