Partner Profiles

Stan Laskowski, Lecturer/Advisor

Stan Laskowski
September 23, 2010

Stan Laskowski is a lecturer in the Department of Earth & Environmental Science and an academic advisor in the Master of Environmental Studies program at Penn. A former Deputy Regional Administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and founder of the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative, Stan brings an invaluable amount of information and experience to the classroom that allows students to realize the connection between environmental studies and service.

In addition to serving as an instructor of the innovative course ENVS 494: Toward Sustainability on Penn’s Campus, Stan teaches several other courses on U.S. and global environmental management, environmental policy, and issues related to the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation.

Read on for our interview with Stan:

On College Green: As a self-proclaimed water conservationist and preservationist, how excited are you for the 2010-2011 Year of Water?

Stan Laskowski: The Year of water is a wonderful opportunity for the students, professors, and others to focus on the importance of water in our lives. We are blessed with a good water supply in this Region. However, this is not true for many parts of the world. The United Nations reports that over 4000 children die each day of a water-related problem. The University of Pennsylvania, with all its resources in science, health, engineering, business, and other disciplines is very well positioned to provide leadership on the important water issues in the immediate region and throughout the world. Many professors and students have been active in these issues and the "Year of Water" will surely help to ensure even greater success in the future.

OCG: What type of work did your job with the EPA entail?

SL: I held many positions in my over 31 years at EPA, including 15 years as the Deputy Regional Administrator in EPA Region 3 [located in Philadelphia]. I had the honor of being involved with many environmental problems [hazardous waste, water, air, etc.] and in many capacities. I also served a year in EPA Headquarters where I was the Director of Strategic Planning and Pollution Prevention Programs.

OCG: What led you to a career focused on environmental issues?

SL: Although I grew up in an urban area [Philadelphia], my parents both enjoyed the outdoors and exposed us to nature, particularly at the New Jersey shore. The book "Silent Spring" also influenced me in the 1960's as well as my experiences doing fieldwork with the US Geological Survey in the beginning of my career.

OCG: You were one of the instructors of the popular Environmental Studies course Toward Sustainability on Penn’s Campus for the past few years. Do you think students are drawn to the course since there is potential for their class projects to actually be implemented by University administrators?

SL: The students want to work on something where they can have an influence and the University administrators have been wonderful in spending time with the students and with seriously considering, and often adopting, the recommendations from the students.

OCG: What courses will you be teaching at Penn this year?

SL: I am currently teaching ENVS 631, Environmental Regulation, and in the spring I will be teaching ENVS 637 Global Water Issues.

OCG: The Philadelphia Global Water Initiative, which you helped found in 2006, will hold its 4th annual conference here at Penn. Is there a specific theme you decided to focus on for 2010?

SL: The Initiative was founded by a group of professionals and students from around the Philadelphia Region and with much help from those at Penn. The fourth annual Conference will be on November 4 in Houston Hall. The theme is how to allocate the limited amount of freshwater available among the various needs ---drinking water, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, and ecosystem services. As you know, the world population continues to grow rapidly and the demand for water is growing even more quickly. The Conference will have presentations from leading experts from academia, government, business, and other organizations. Admission is free, but space is limited. Contact Chryslene Rebeiro at chryslene.rebeiro@gmail.com for reservations.

OCG: The Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) is another program you helped establish in collaboration with the Wharton School. Can you describe the program’s mission and what the group has in store for this year?

SL: IGEL advances research and education regarding issues at the nexus of the environment and business. It offers students the opportunity to learn about issues such as energy, climate change, and water and how business can help find solutions to these problems. The next major IGEL Conference will be on March 22 and the theme will be the "value of water".

OCG: If you had to choose one specific environmental field to work in (aside from water), what would it be?

SL: Energy and climate change will continue to be major issues for many years to come. Habitat/species extinction, low level pollutants, and the interdisciplinary approaches [eg, health/environment/economics] will also be increasingly important.

Each issue, we recognize a member of the Penn community for his or her environmental sustainability efforts on campus. If you know someone at Penn who is "leading the green," let us know at sustainability@upenn.edu.

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