Campus and Local Community Spaces as Collaborative Lab for Environmental Research—Inspiration from Leaders at Other Campuses

Apr 5, 2024

01:30 PM - 03:00 PM

Iowa City Public Library,

123 South Linn Street, Iowa City, IA 52240

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Kathleen Socolofsky and Bethany Wiggin

Around the country, visionary faculty members and administrators are finding inspiring ways to engage students, artists, researchers, staff, and community partners in learning about and responding to climate change and its environmental effects through the very landscapes in which they live and work. As part of this year’s Obermann series, “Envisioning Interdisciplinary, Experiential Environmental Research,” we are thrilled to welcome two leaders whose brilliant cross-sectoral, cross-disciplinary collaborations offer inspiring ways to conduct research, teach classes, and connect campuses with their communities. Their work promises that through expansive, intentional collaborations here at the University of Iowa, we can leap over the usual obstacles to working together and design projects that will not only change hearts and minds, but directly address the impacts of climate change and environmental challenges.


Kathleen Socolofsky, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. AVC Socolofsky is the co-developer of three initiatives that are being used as models for universities and public gardens across the United States and beyond: (1) the UCD GATEways (Gardens, Arts, and The Environment) Project; (2) the UC Davis Living Landscape Adaptation Plan for climate change; and (3) the  Learning by Leading™ Program Model for student experiential leadership for the environment.

Lecture: "The UCD Arboretum and Public Garden as Interdisciplinary, Learning Laboratory—Connecting the Campus and Community Through Experiential Teaching, Learning, and Research on and in the Environment"

Bethany Wiggin, Founding Director of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and the My Climate Story and Ecotopian Toolkit projects and Professor of German at the University of Pennsylvania with affiliations in Comparative Literature, English, and International Studies. Wiggin’s collaborations include research across the arts and sciences and public engagement in the environmental humanities: including Timescales and An Ecotopian Toolkit. After the 2016 election, she played a pivotal role in launching #Datarefuge to address concerns about federal climate and environmental data. With Johns Hopkins engineering professor Peter DeCarlo, she researches and teaches summer research seminars to educate the public about the pollution of the Schuylkill River.

Lecture: "Humanists at Work in the World: Campus-Community Partnerships for Environmental Justice"

This event is free and open to all.

Hosted by the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, with generous support from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Humanities for the Public Good.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact in advance at