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This year's Penn Climate Week featured a Biodiversity Fair on Sept. 18 with interactive experiments, live insect demonstrations, and giveaways. Credit: Gabriel Jung

Organizers of Penn’s fourth annual Climate Week hosted a range of events to raise awareness of climate change and sustainability on campus.  

The 2023 Penn Climate Week, from Sept. 18 to 22, comprised nearly 40 events spanning topics from agricultural sustainability to public health. Organizers said that they aimed to increase student involvement and highlight topics that engage the Penn community as a whole. 

“One of the major goals is really to offer something for everyone,” Katherine Baillie, interim director of the Environmental Innovations Initiative, said. 

Events included panels, lectures, film screenings, and workshops with various experts. According to Baillie, nearly 100 people attended Collaborating on Climate and Health: A Discussion with Deans, where deans from five schools discussed the intersection between their disciplines and the climate emergency. 

Baillie said that the Crisis of Climate-Driven Extinction, a panel discussion at the Perry World House on the human connection with nature, drew over 300 online registrations. 

“We're hoping to have the wider student community see Climate Week events as open to them and really relevant to them,” Baillie said.

In the signature “1.5-Minute Climate Lectures,” students and faculty had 90 seconds to give speeches on a variety of environmental topics. Nearly 120 people attended the lectures, Baillie said, which took place in a tent on College Green for the first time.

“Every year it looks different,” Nina Morris, Sustainability Director for the Penn Sustainability Office, said. “The more people that get engaged, the better sense and chance we have to develop solutions to find out what we need to talk about more.”

Credit: Ethan Young Nearly 100 people attended a roundtable event with five Penn deans on Sept. 19 for this year's Climate Week.

Next year, organizers are looking at various potential methods to increase engagement. Morris said that they could host Climate Week later in the year and improve signage, and Baillie suggested that a keynote event could rally the larger Penn community. 

Morris encouraged students to get involved in the planning and execution of Climate Week.

“I love hearing from students,” Morris said. “I love hearing where they're getting their inspiration, how they're focusing on climate in their education, and seeing what topics really speak to them.”

Wharton sophomore Gabrielle Fine, a student speaker at the 1.5-Minute Climate Lectures, said the experience helped her determine the direction of her studies. 

“Climate week was honestly really formative for me, and it exposed me to what I want to pursue in my career,” Fine said. “It really emphasizes how important it is to keep working on the climate crisis and keep doing events such as this."

Ayma Waqar, an Engineering sophomore who helped coordinate Climate Week this year, said she participated because she wanted to be a “positive change maker” for climate action. 

“Since we are all a part of this environment, we owe it to be responsible citizens,” Waqar said. “Climate Week is like a representation of all of the work that people are doing around the world for climate change and sustainability.”