Penn will create a committee of faculty members to address climate change and sustainability, Penn Faculty Senate Chair Steven Kimbrough said.
The group will talk about how to foster research and teaching of climate change worldwide, in addition to discussing how Penn could be more sustainable. The group will commence at the beginning of next year, and Kimbrough said he is currently recruiting faculty members to be on the committee.
The group began "due to the widespread interest of the faculty in all aspects of the climate emergency, which I share and share strongly," Kimbrough wrote in an email. "After a few months on the job as Senate Chair, it appeared to me that appointing an ad hoc committee of the Faculty Senate would be an effective way to organize a discussion on this topic."
Kimbrough made the announcement at a Faculty Senate Executive Committee meeting, which was only open to standing faculty members, on Nov. 20. No members of the meeting objected to the formation of the ad hoc group, Kimbrough said.
The group will be between six to 12 members, Kimbrough said. He said he wanted to bring a group together at the earliest possible date, and continue to search for new members, which is something that he has done with the other ad hoc committee — on scholarly communications — in the past. While he said he is focused on recruiting faculty members for now, he said students could potentially become a part of the committee in the future.
Kimbrough said he thought of the idea for creating an ad hoc committee on climate change after the Faculty Senate Executive Committee approved the one on the scholarly communications.
The creation of the group comes after Kimbrough announced that climate change is one area that he wanted to focus on for the upcoming school year in the Faculty Senate, according to his welcome back message in the Penn Almanac in August.
"How can the various disciplines and forms of expertise at Penn, both within and without climate science, contribute to meeting the challenges of global warming?" he wrote.
The group's formation also comes after a surge of action dedicated to preventing climate change by students and faculty.
Earlier this month, Fossil Free Penn shut down a Board of Trustees meeting. Protesters shouted and sang slogans asking the University to divest from fossil fuels, drowning out the proceedings of the meeting.
In October, Penn released its latest Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0, highlighting its five-year goals to promote sustainability on campus.
The new plan, which sets goals from 2019 to 2024, addresses issues such as increasing academic study of environmental issues, reducing carbon emissions and waste, and promoting sustainable behaviors among members of the Penn community.
This is Penn's third Climate Action Plan, following an initial five-year plan in 2009 and 2014's Climate Action Plan 2.0.
The Faculty Senate is made up of 2,700 standing faculty, who are tenured and tenure-track professors. The Executive Committee, which is a sub-group of the Faculty Senate, has 58 members.