Three views of the cleaning of a fossil specimen acquired in the late 19th century by the Academy of Natural Sciences. By Paul Callomon, August 2016.

I am really jazzed to be teaching a new course during Drexel’s summer quarter, “Civic Field School.” It’s an intensive — a ten week course packed into five — and also a hybrid, which means that half our time is spent in the classroom, and the other half is spent in the field or online.

The class itself is part of the NSF 6Cities project, which investigates environmental health governance of air pollution in Albany, Bangalore, Beijing, Houston, New York, and Philadelphia. (There are other cities in the mix, but don’t fall under the NSF grant.) As part of the grant project, we’re running field schools in each of the cities. Here is an excerpt from the course description:

In this course we will investigate how science and local expertise support environmental health governance in Philadelphia. Students will learn social science field techniques relevant to understanding urban problems, in community context, with global perspective. Assignments will teach students how to interview, take ethnographic fieldnotes, and conduct collaborative analysis. The course will make use of a virtual research environment where we can collectively curate and discuss data. Case studies will include lead exposure and late industrialism; scrapyard siting and management; climate change and air pollution research. Our primary course case studies will focus on Philadelphia, but examples from other locations will also be used.

Mapping Segregation - New York Times
Mapping Segregation – New York Times

We’ve got eight undergraduates and one STS graduate student in the class, plus Dalton George and Linda Croskey as our Philadelphia research assistants; so we have a nice group of collaborators. Linda has been working with housing data (she’s continuing work that she began in the Housing Philadelphia course by creating an archive in The Asthma Files.) Dalton is creating an archive of asthma studies that have been conducted here in Philadelphia, and also a case study of I-95 Revive, which links into the Mapping Perceptions project. And I’ve been creating an archive of urban climate planning documents with Kerri Yandrich. Between these three archives, plus the larger TAF archive students will have a lot to play around with.

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