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Environmental Justice Week, Jan. 11–19

A Virtual Festival Commemorates the Work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

PHILADELPHIA, December 17, 2020

To commemorate the environmental justice work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will present a weeklong virtual festival of programs for both adults and children, Monday, Jan. 11 through Tuesday, Jan. 19. 


Environmental Justice Week will feature live virtual panel discussions and lectures, film screenings, and downloadable digital content and resource guidesKids can join with other children for conversations and storytelling as educators navigate to inspire a more equitable future. 


“We believe that conversations around environmental justice are pivotal to our future, said Niki Stewart, the Academy’s chief learning and engagement officer. “We hope this week of programs will highlight the importance of environmental justice and the Academy’s research and programming initiatives in this area. Everyone deserves safe, healthy places to live and work, and programs like these show us the positive impact we can have when we come together.” 


The following Environmental Justice Week programs are all free; some require registration. For more information, visit 


Academy Conversation: What is Environmental Justice? 

Monday, Jan. 113 p.m. 

Zoom; register 

What is environmental justice and why is it important? For over 30 years, the environmental justice movement has been fighting the disproportionate risks that pollution poses to low-income populations and communities of color. Join in a free, virtual discussion on Zoom to examine how environmental justice matters to you and your community.  


 Where’s Rodney? Storytelling 

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 10 a.m. 

Facebook Live @AcademyofNaturalSciences 

Cozy up to the computer with your listening ears and looking eyes for a special environmental justice-themed storytelling experience with Academy educator Mariah Romaninsky and some special friends. Join Rodney on a journey as he learns about the world beyond his neighborhood. “Where’s Rodney?” emphasizes observation skills and inquiry using the five senses. All ages are welcome to listen along, but children ages 4-8 may enjoy this program the most. 


Environmental Justice in Philadelphia and the PES Refinery 

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 4 p.m. 

Zoom; register at 

Presented by Drexel University College of Engineering as part of the Green Infrastructure, Climate and Cities CCRUN Seminar Series 

In June 2019, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia, the largest oil refinery on the East Coast, exploded and a month later filed for bankruptcy. The surrounding community had long been impacted by the refinery’s emissions, experiencing disproportionately high rates of asthma, cancer and other chronic health issues. The PES incident now presents a unique opportunity to clean up and redevelop the 1,400-acre site. The Clean Air Council, in partnership with Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University, developed a report entitled "Visioning the Reuse of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery Complex" to begin to reimagine the future of the refinery site. Philly Thrive, a grassroots organization of residents near the refinery, have been active in centering the community's demands in the redevelopment of the site and advocating for a just transition to a fossil fuel-free future. This Zoom discussion brings together these voices and the general public to spur dialogue about the issues. Speakers include Clean Air Council Advocacy Director Matt Walker, Lindy Institute at Drexel University Executive Director Harris Steinberg, and Philly Thrive representatives. 


The Green Infrastructure, Climate and Cities seminars are part of a monthly seminar series through the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN), a NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Program. 


Cooked: Survival By Zip Code 

Thursday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m. 

Film Screening and Panel Discussion; register at 

In Partnership with the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival 

The concept of Environmental Justice can, at times, be vague and abstract. But there are occasions when that abstraction comes crashing down to reality. This occurred in Chicago during the summer of 1995. Perhaps you recall hearing of the 700 Chicagoans who perished during the heatwave. But most likely you haven’t. Perhaps that is because those who lost their lives were largely people of color from the poorest neighborhoods. Perhaps that is also more than just a correlation. 


In partnership with the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, the Academy presents Cooked: Survival by Zip Code in its entirety and free of charge. Once registered you will be provided access to the film to view anytime during the 48 hours leading up to the panel discussion. After viewing the film, join the film’s director, Judith Helfand, and a diverse panel as they explore the themes, causes and consequences of environmental injustice explored in Cooked.  


Live! From the Academy: #Philabag at Tinicum 

Friday, Jan. 15, 1 p.m. 

Facebook Live @AcademyofNaturalSciences 

In Partnership with John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge 

Take a virtual field trip to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum with Academy educators and scientists to meet the caretakers of this incredible place. Discover how this urban refuge protects not only the plants and animals that live there but also serves the surrounding neighborhoods. Learn about the #Philabag initiative, educating Philadelphians about the travels of our trash, and how you can make an impact to address the problem of litter in our communities. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is America’s first urban wildlife refuge and access is free. 


Ask the Scientists: Environmental Justice Conversation for Kids 

Saturday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m. 

Zoom; register at 

Join Academy educators, Philadelphia experts and area community members for a kid-led conversation about environmental justice. Let your voice be heard, or listen and learn, as we explore what kids think and feel about the issues facing their communities and their ideas for creating a just and equitable world. Find out ways to start meaningful conversations with family, friends and public officials on the topics that mean the most to you. This program is suitable for children ages 8-11, but all are welcome. For younger guests, adult assistance is requested to enable questioning. This panel is moderated by senior Women In Natural Sciences Explainer Angie Albarouki, of String Theory Charter School, and features WINS alumna Zakia Elliott, program manager at Philadelphia Climate Works.  


Cheryl Beth Silverman Lecture Featuring Corina Newsome 

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 6 p.m. 

Zoom; register at 

Corina Newsome, an award-winning student whose article "It's Time to Build a Truly Inclusive Outdoors," was published in National Audubon Society Magazine, will expand on the idea of underrepresented communities being exposed to wildlife sciences in conservation, environmental education and exploration of the natural world. She will share her thoughts in a virtual conversation and take questions from guests for a live, interactive conversation. Newsome earned her B.A. in zoo and wildlife biology at Malone University in Canton, Ohio, and is working on her master of science in biology at Georgia Southern University, where she received the 2020 Averitt Award for Research Excellence.  


Video: Environmental Justice from PEACE 

For webpage, visit 

The Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences explainers will share five ways to be environmental justice warriors through PEACE: Participate, Educate, Advocate, Communicate and Elevate. From getting involved in their communities to amplifying unheard voices, WINS students exemplify how environmental justice lets us rise together. Learn more about these young women’s experiences working with Academy staff and scientists. Find out how WINS provides them the knowledge to make informed decisions about their education and careers so they can be role models for their communities.  


Environmental Justice Family Resource Guide 

For webpage, visit 

Are you interested in learning more about environmental justice but not sure where to start? This guide features suggested reading for all ages, recommended websites and media and conversation starters for kids and families. Talking about inequities can be difficult no matter where you live or who you are, but challenging conversations help us grow. Learning is the first step toward building the equitable future we all deserve.