Engaging the University community with regional decision makers, national thought leaders and global water practitioners for the purpose of developing integrated and innovative urban water strategies that address public health, infrastructure, and the socioeconomic and environmental challenges of long-term urban water sustainability and resilience. 

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To be the preeminent center that provides integrated real-world solutions to critical urban water problems


The Water Center at Penn supports the resiliency, sustainability and equity of urban water systems through guidance, assistance and by directing applied collaborative research 

Water Center Happenings

There’s a straight line from water access to social progress, according to Eleanor Allen, CEO of the international nonprofit Water for People. “If we don’t have basic services, if we don’t know where we’re going to go to the bathroom,” she explained, “how can we concentrate on creating a better future for ourselves?”

As part of the keynote talk at this year’s Global Water Alliance (GWA) meeting, held at Penn, Allen laid out the rationale that drives her organization’s mission of ensuring that people around the world have access to clean, reliable water that can help break the cycle of poverty and set the stage for economic growth, a trajectory that paves the way for social progress.


2019 Philadelphia Urban Water Workshop: Understanding Water Challenges, Bridges and Barriers

Date: April 23 & 24, 2019

Location: University of Pennsylvania

The Water Center at Penn and the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN) is hosting an Urban Water Sustainability Workshop to discuss opportunities for involvement with the $12M National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network (SRN).  The workshop is scheduled for April 23-24, 2019 at the University of Pennsylvania.  

The first day (April 23) will be dedicated to learning from the local academic team about current research efforts and areas of potential collaboration with ongoingUWIN activities.  Day 2 (April 24) will host invited regional stakeholders as well as academic team members to discuss regional challenges and identify potential barrier and/or bridges in the transition to urban water sustainability.

The Urban Water Innovation Network is a consortium of nearly 20 academic institutions and key water industry partners, with research and engagement activities currently underway in six regions across the U.S. designed to capture water challenges in a variety of contexts from coastal communities to high plains deserts.  

Please feel to contact us if you have any questions ( 


Teaching and Learning with Rising Waters

Date: May 9 – 11, 2019 

Location: Perry World House & Wolf Hummanities Center

Gathering researchers, teachers, artists, and students of all ages hailing from diverse and differently vulnerable communities, we will explore how we can develop and use transdisciplinary methods of inquiry to learn, teach, and live with rising waters and how we might work collaboratively to develop new educational tools. Since 2016, PPEH has piloted on-water teaching and learning engagements under the banner of the Schuylkill River Research Corps, including the On-Water Research Intensive in June 2018, as well as the ongoing three-year program, Rising Waters: Philadelphia and Mumbai, funded by a Making a Difference in Diverse Communities award. This convening brings these and other initiatives based in the Delaware watershed into dialogue with scientists, humanists, and artists working on, around, in, and with the Hudson, Passaic, Susquehanna, and Mississippi Rivers, in North America, as well as with others working on waters on five continents. Research presentations alternate with artists talks, screenings, literary readings, and public performances. 


Design With Nature

Date: June 21-22, 2019

Location: University of Pennsylvania, School of Design

Design With Nature Now will highlight dynamic and visionary approaches to landscape design and development in the face of climate change and urbanization.

Taking as its point of departure the landmark book Design With Nature (1969) by Ian McHarg, the project comprises three parallel exhibitions supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, an anthology published by the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, and a major international conference featuring leading design thinkers and practitioners from around the globe.

This two-day conference will open on June 21 with a keynote discussion between Ursula Heise and Erle Ellis,followed by an opening reception in the Design with Nature Now exhibition–which documents 25 built and unbuilt projects exemplifying what it means to design with nature, now. There, visitors can explore projects like Room for the River (H+N+S), Freshkills Park (JCFO), and New Urban Ground (dlandstudio + ARO).

The event will continue on June 22 with panel discussions involving James Corner, Anne Whiston Spirn, Nina-Marie Lister, Rob Holmes, and many others. It promises to be a singular event for anyone involved in design, climate change, and planning.

The conference is sponsored by Carl and Roberta Dranoff, Biohabitats, ESRI, OLIN, WRT, James Corner Field Operations, MIthun, Civitas, Hargreaves Associates, and Rhodside & Harwell. 


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The Water Center at Penn | University of Pennsylvania | Hayden Hall | 240 S. 33rd Street | Philadelphia, PA | 19104 | 

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