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Penn Libraries News

University of Pennsylvania Libraries Launches Book Prize in Sustainability

The winning author will present their work during a formal ceremony in September.

An open book rests on a moss-covered surface with a blurred green forest background,

In an era increasingly defined by the imperative of sustainability, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries is proud to announce the launch of the Penn Libraries Book Prize in Sustainability, presented by the Lynn Family. This new annual award acknowledges outstanding contributions to the global discourse on environmental sustainability, with a specific focus on books that have a substantial impact on the public's understanding of these crucial issues.

The winning author will receive an $8,000 cash prize and will present their award-winning research during a formal award ceremony on September 26, 2024.

“The Penn Libraries Book Prize in Sustainability is a call to action, encouraging authors and thinkers to contribute to the vital discourse on sustaining our planet for future generations,” says Brigitte Weinsteiger, Interim Director of the Penn Libraries and Gershwind & Bennett Family Senior Associate Vice Provost for Collections and Scholarly Communications. “In fostering a deeper public understanding of environmental sustainability, the Penn Libraries continues our tradition of advancing knowledge for the public good, echoing Penn's broader mission to contribute to a better and more sustainable future for all.”  

The University’s new strategic framework, In Principle and Practice, urges the Penn community to play a leading role in addressing the existential challenge of climate change, stating, "We must, in an all-in University effort, do more.” The framework notes that Penn will seek additional ways to fuel and support a variety of initiatives, including those that advance understanding and promise solutions.  

“As the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion loom large, the need for informed public discourse has never been greater,” says Michael E. Mann, Director, Penn Center for Science, Sustainability & the Media, and Presidential Distinguished Professor, Department of Earth & Environmental Science/Annenberg School for Communication. “This prize seeks to elevate books that not only address these critical issues but also inspire actionable insights and solutions and elucidate the interconnectedness of economic progress, social equity, environmental stewardship, and sustainable development, thereby fostering a more informed and proactive global citizenry.”

Mann is one of five jurors representing academia, climate activism, and the private sector who will select finalists and ultimately the winner of the prize. Other jurors include Daniel Cohan, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University; Sara Cronenwett, Senior Vice President, Corporate Environmental Sustainability, Comcast; Genevieve Guenther, Founding Director, End Climate Silence, and Affiliate Faculty, Tishman Environment and Design Center, The New School; Julie DiNatale, Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer, FMC; along with Brigitte Weinsteiger, ex officio.

All non-fiction books in English, published between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023, are eligible for submission. Successful candidates for the award will focus on environmental sustainability, covering topics including but not limited to climate change, renewable energy, conservation strategies, sustainable agriculture, water resource management, and green technologies.  

Penn Libraries Board of Advisors member Haniel J. Lynn ENG'91, WG'95, PAR'23 and his wife Anita Hsueh Lynn, ENG’91, PAR’23 generously provided funding to establish the book prize.  

“Anita and I are very happy to support this initiative, which spotlights the vital work being done to address the urgent environmental issues of our time,” says Haniel Lynn. “Our hope is that the prize ignites dialogue and discussion and extends the impact of the winning book among researchers, policymakers, and the public.”  

The Penn Libraries began engaging publishers and encouraging submissions for the prize earlier this year, and submissions will be accepted through April 30, 2024. Nominations must be submitted directly by publishers, and each publisher may submit only one title for consideration. Publishers can view the full rules and details of the contest and submit a work for consideration through this form.