University of Pennsylvania Almanac
April 25, 2017, Volume 63, No. 32
Professor Richard (Rich) Pepino, lecturer in Earth & Environmental Science (EES), School of Arts & Sciences and Deputy Director, Community Outreach & Engagement Core, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), Perelman School of Medicine, and his partners in the School District of Philadelphia are this year’s recipients of the Netter Center Faculty-Community Partnership Award.
The Netter Center for Community Partnerships Faculty-Community Partnership Award is an annual award to recognize outstanding Faculty-Community Partnership projects in West Philadelphia/Philadelphia. The $5,000 award is split evenly between the faculty member and the community partner to develop and advance existing partnerships. The faculty member and community partner will be honored at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 9, 5-5:30 p.m., room 108, at the ARCH Building. This is the second presentation of this annual award.
Mr. Pepino has spent the last 11 years teaching academically-based community service (ABCS) courses that help students contribute to the solution of significant environmental public health problems in Philadelphia. He has partnered with public schools in West/South Philadelphia—Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP), Lea and Comegys Elementary Schools, and Sayre and West Philadelphia High Schools—to develop projects that simultaneously enhance community environmental health literacy and environmental health education for K-12 and college students. Penn students in his courses collaborate with school teachers to educate students about environmental health risk factors, such as lead poisoning, asthma triggers, and indoor air quality. The Philadelphia school students then engage in outreach projects to bring what they have learned to their families and communities. Through these projects, he has further leveraged partnerships with various government and city agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Philadelphia Department of Health, and Philadelphia Air Management Services, as well as Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He has also mentored numerous Penn students who pursued additional research projects that built on their ABCS coursework.
Mr. Pepino and his partners have improved the quality of life in the community and the quality of learning and scholarship in the University through collaborative problem-solving, kindergarten through college. Their work reaffirms Ben Franklin’s belief that: “The great Aim and End of all Learning… is service [to society].” This partnership exemplifies the Netter Center’s efforts to develop courses that integrate research, teaching, learning and service in a meaningful and impactful way.