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ABOUT (SC)2

A hub for critical social science on climate change

The Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, or (SC)², is a hub for critical social science research on the climate emergency, based in the University of Pennsylvania’s Population Studies Center. Starting on July 1, 2021, (SC)² will be hosted by UC Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix. (SC)² aims to deepen understanding of the intersection of social, health, and environmental inequalities in the built environment all over the world, with an eye to public engagement and informing policy.

“Carboniferous” map in “Nonstop Metropolis: A New York Atlas” (Solnit and Schapiro 2016). Cartography: Molly Roy; artwork: Bette Burgoyne. Underlying data from Kevin Ummel, adapted from research he did for the Center for Global Development. Image courtesy of University of California Press.

(SC)²’s first major research project is Whole Community Climate Mapping, a collective, interdisciplinary big data project to create, analyze, and share with the public a household carbon footprint database and climate vulnerability index for the United States of unprecedented spatial resolution, along with a wide range of other social, health, and environmental indicators—all at the neighborhood level.

(SC)² is also advancing the debate on the Green New Deal idea, with a focus on the inequality and the built environment through workshops and public events, like Designing a Green Deal.

Collaboration must be at the core of critical social scientific work on a topic as massive as climate change. (SC)² brings together graduate students and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania across schools and departments, and coordinates with faculty and research groups at other universities in the U.S. and abroad.

For a brief discussion of the challenges that studying climate breakdown poses to critical social science, see (SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen’s co-authored essay at the Social Science Research Council’s Items blog, “The Useful Discomfort of Critical Climate Social Science.” Cohen wrote the essay with three of (SC)²’s faculty collaborators, Kasia Paprocki (LSE), Rebecca Elliott (LSE), and Liz Koslov (UCLA).

Brief History

(SC)2 is directed by Daniel Aldana Cohen, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Cohen and the data scientist Kevin Ummel began the collaboration that would eventually yield (SC)2 in April 2015. Ummel’s data underlaid the map pictured above, which appeared in “Nonstop Metropolis: A New York Atlas,” edited by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro and Rebecca Solnit. The map shows that the city’s lowest-carbon neighborhoods are anchored by public housing. This is why some of New York’s iconic public housing stock is included in this website’s stylized banner image, a representation of the city’s skyline that too often excludes those buildings.

Ummel and Cohen renewed their collaboration in fall 2016, with support from Penn’s Population Studies Center, leading to the founding of (SC)2. (SC)2 has since organized reading groups, workshops, and events, and launched a major research project, Whole Community Climate Mapping.

 

Funding

(SC) is hosted by the Penn Population Studies Center, form which it also received seed funding. (SC)2‘s research and activities have also been funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Penn’s Perry World House, Penn’s Fels Policy Research Initiative, Penn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, Penn’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research, and research gifts from Ramanan Raghavendran.

U.S. ENGAGEMENT WITH CHINESE CLIMATE POLITICS: PROGRESSIVE ALTERNATIVES TO COLD WAR POSTURING

MAY 19, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT, 2021| VIRTUAL EVENT | Event Page

How should US-based Green New Dealers—and other advocates of ambitious climate policy—understand, respond to, and engage with climate politics in other parts of the world? That question is particularly fraught when it comes to Chinese climate politics, especially in the current moment, where a number of political elites in both of the United States’ leading political parties are casting China’s economic rise as a fundamental threat to U.S. interests. We worry especially about the prospect of a new Cold War. How can progressive forces in the U.S. counter the bellicose Cold War rhetoric and mobilization, without reflexively defending all that China does? After all, there is a lot to oppose. How can U.S. based climate movements push a more cooperative relationship with Chinese climate politics? What is the best way for U.S. progressives to push China to decarbonize more rapidly—at home, and in its world-spanning infrastructure projects? What would progress look like? 

A PAN-AMERICAN GREEN NEW DEAL? GREEN INVESTMENT, EXTRACTION BATTLES, AND REFORESTATION 

MAY 11, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT, 2021| VIRTUAL EVENT | Event Page

Is there a possible Pan-American Green New Deal that centers workers and communities, while deconstructing centuries of American imperialism in the region? Any move toward continental climate justice will require policymakers, social movement, researchers, and others in the United States to face a Big Question: How should US-based Green New Dealers—and other advocates of ambitious climate justice action—understand, respond to, and engage with climate politics in other parts of the world? “A Pan-American Green New Deal? Green Investment, Extraction Battles, Reforestation” considers our Big Question in the broad context of climate politics in the Americas.

GLOBAL CLIMATE JUSTICE AGAINST NEO-COLONIALISM: NEW CONCEPTS AND PRIORITIES FOR JUST COOPERATION 

MAY 3, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT, 2021| VIRTUAL EVENT | Event Page

How should US-based Green New Dealers—and other advocates of ambitious climate policy—understand, respond to, and engage with climate politics in other parts of the world? This panel, “Global Climate Justice Against Neo-Colonialism: New Concepts and Priorities for Just Cooperation,” considers our Big Question in the broad context of climate politics across the regions of the planetary economy. The panel is also part of a broader series, called Democratizing Global Green Investment: Aligning Domestic and International Policies around Green New Deal Principles, which will also feature discussions focused on Latin American and Chinese climate politics. Further details TBA. 

A GREEN NEW DEAL FOR PUBLIC HOUSING

(SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen lead-authored “A Green New Deal for Public Housing to Deliver Racial, Economic, and Climate Justice,” a report advocating a a massive federal investment that would finally provide American public housing communities with healthy, comfortable, energy-efficient homes—fighting racism, unemployment, the housing crisis, and the climate emergency at the same time and in the same places, and building out badly needed green community infrastructure. (SC)2 co-sponsored the report. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders drew on the report in their reintroduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act. Read the New York Times coverage of the bill and our report.

GREEN SOCIAL HOUSING AT SCALE: LESSONS FROM VIENNA’S SOCIAL HOUSING ON PROJECT FINANCE, HOUSING IMMIGRANTS, AND CLIMATE-FRIENDLY URBANISM

APRIL 13, 12 pm, 2021| VIRTUAL EVENT | Event Page

To guarantee healthy, carbon-free homes across the United States, we need to build green social housing at scale. How does Vienna currently fund new social housing, and the maintenance of housing that already exists? How is it incorporating climate and sustainability issues into its projects? Read The Architect’s Newspaper‘s coverage of our green social housing events.

A GREEN STIMULUS FOR K-12 SCHOOLS

(SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen co-authored “A Green Stimulus for K-12 Schools,” a report advocating a massive green stimulus for American schools that would finance deep energy retrofits and increased human resources in low-income schools. (SC)2 co-sponsored the report. Rep. Jamaal Bowman based his proposals for stimulus funding for schools on the report.

THE AMERICAN FUTURE OF GREEN SOCIAL HOUSING: LESSONS FROM THE BRONX’S VIA VERDE

MARCH 18, 2021 | Co-Organized by Daniel Aldana Cohen and Karen Kubey| EVENT PAGE

The future of affordable housing must be climate-friendly, and it must provide a model for community living that’s splendid and racially just. How can the lessons of Via Verde, the lauded South Bronx housing development, help shape the future of green social housing in the United States? Read The Architect’s Newspaper‘s coverage of our green social housing events.

LAND JUSTICE: BALTIMORE AND PHILADELPHIA

On January 6, 2020, (SC)2 Co-sponsored a teach-in on organizing for land justice, moderated by Philadelphia Councilmember Kendra Brooks, and featuring a range of organizers from Baltimore and Philly. They addressed a basic question: “How can struggles for land, environmental, and housing justice in different cities inform each other’s organizing?”

THE CASE FOR SOCIAL HOUSING

(SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen and Mark Paul published a report for the Justice Collaborative and Data for Progress making the case for building 12 million units of no-carbon, green, healthy social housing in the next decade. Read their report, “The Case for Social Housing,” and a profile of the research in Bloomberg CityLab, “Should Biden Go Big on Public Housing?

WORKING PAPER: MICRO-SPATIAL SIMULATION

Nick Graetz, Kevin Ummel, and Daniel Aldana Cohen published a working paper, “Small-Area Analyses Using Public American Community Survey Data: A Tree-Based Spatial Microsimulation Technique,” in the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). May 2020.

RESEARCH REPORTS: GREEN NEW DEAL FOR PUBLIC HOUSING ACT

(SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen led the research for the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which was introduced by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Sanders in November 2019. Read the research, co-produced with the McHarg Center and Data for Progress; and see coverage of the report interviewing Cohen in Vox and the The Huffington Post, and coverage in the Bronx Chronicle of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Cohen presenting the Act in the Pelham Parkway Houses in the Bronx in December 2019.

POLLING MEMO: GREEN HOMES GUARANTEE

Working with Data for Progress and People’s Action, (SC)2 surveyed Americans on their support level for ambitious policies to build new social housing, decarbonize housing, redress racial inequalities in housing, and turn public institutions like libraries and public schools into resiliency centers. We found strikingly broad and deep support for these measures. Read our October 19, 2020, memo for details.

A SUCCESSFUL CLIMATE PLAN MUST ALSO TACKLE THE HOUSING CRISIS

In the real world, you can’t separate the carbon causing the climate emergency from our physical and economic systems, any more than you can separate windows, furnaces, and air conditioners from your monthly rent bill. Read (SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen’s October 1st, 2019, op-ed in the Guardian

 

 

 

 

DESIGNING A GREEN NEW DEAL

A Green New Deal would have massive implications for the built environment, yet these have received scant attention in public debate so far. Join (SC)², the McHarg Center for Urbanism + Ecology, and our other partners for a major public event on September 13, 2019, Designing a Green Deal. REGISTER HERE

ECO-APARTHEID IS REAL

The July 2019 heat emergency has exemplified how the climate crisis is converging with a housing crisis. We could tackle both with a Green New Deal for Housing. Read (SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen’s analysis of the July 2019 U.S. heat emergency in The Nation.

POLICY DIGEST: FOLLOW THE CARBON

Typically, we measure emissions that occur within a geographic boundary. But consumption-based accounting tells a different story: that affluent communities depend heavily on polluting activity that occurs elsewhere. Read our June 2019 Policy Digest, Follow the Carbon: The Case for Neighborhood-Level Carbon Footprints

 

CONTRADICTIONS OF THE CLIMATE-FRIENDLY CITY

Read a summary of (SC)2 Director Daniel Aldana Cohen’s 2019 journal article, Contradictions of the Climate‐Friendly City: New Perspectives on Eco‐Gentrification and Housing Justice, co-authored with Jennifer L. Rice, Joshua Long, and Jason R. Jurjevitch, and drawing on research by (SC)2‘s Kevin Ummel. Or see coverage in Sierra Magazine, Science Daily, and Fast Company.