PSR: The Philadelphia Story
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Philadelphia is a public health, 501c3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to promote social responsibility by protecting health, the environment and communities through education, training, direct service, and advocacy. Established in 1979, PSR Philadelphia fulfills our mission through programs focused on 1) the prevention of interpersonal violence and 2) addressing threats to health and the environment.
Originally founded to oppose nuclear weapons, PSR Philadelphia shifted focus in the 1980s to address local needs, including preventing interpersonal violence. PSR Philadelphia was focused on the prevention of violence through two programs: Peaceful Posse engages youth in practicing alternative strategies for dealing with stress and conflict, empowering them to make healthier choices; and the Youth Court Program, held at area schools, which instilled in first-time rule-breakers a respect for society and promotes positive citizenship attitudes, civic engagement and educational success through service learning opportunities.
Founded in 1997, the Women’s Health & Environmental Network (WHEN) began seeking to address the links between the environment and cancer. WHEN sought to create partnerships with key sectors to maximize its efficiency and impact without duplicating efforts. Over the years, WHEN applied this philosophy - using economic indicators, appropriate science, and common-sense approaches to support programmatic decisions across a variety of sectors - to design and implement award-winning programs with measurable and meaningful outcomes.
Seeking to expand both organizations' reach, in mid-2011, WHEN officially began to merge with PSR Philadelphia, creating an Environmental Health division within PSR Philadelphia. Combining WHEN’s mission of championing health through environmental action and PSR Philadelphia’s commitment to safeguarding our community, we are well prepared to enter our next phase and continue our efforts to address some of the gravest threats to health.
Founded in 1961, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) made its mark by documenting the presence of Strontium-90 a highly radioactive waste product of atmospheric nuclear testing in children’s teeth. This finding led to the Limited Nuclear Test Ban treaty that ended atmospheric nuclear testing.
In 1985, PSR shared in the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to IPPNW for building public pressure to reverse the nuclear arms race. In the 1990s, PSR built on its record of achievement by helping to end nuclear warhead production and winning U.S. passage of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that still offers the possibility of a world without nuclear tests.
In 1992, PSR expanded its mission to apply its medical expertise to environmental health issues, in recognition that global climate change and toxic pollution also pose grave risks to human health. That same year, PSR’s mobilization of the medical community on environmental health issues led to a collaboration among MIT, the Harvard School of Public Health, Brown University and PSR’s Greater Boston chapter that resulted in Critical Condition, Dr. Eric Chivian’s definitive volume on human health and the environment.
In 2006, PSR launched an Energy Security Initiative focused on environmental health and security issues and their impact on public health, and producing and holding briefings on our report, Powering Foreign Policy: The Role of Oil and Diplomacy in Conflict, that have brought together a diverse array of public policy organizations, congressional policymakers, embassy staff, security experts and the media; and mobilizing thousands of PSR activists to send a letter to President Bush for inadequately funding research and development of renewable energy technologies and for failing to implement the most effective tools for decreasing U.S. oil consumption conservation and energy efficiency.
PSR Philadelphia is a Chapter of PSR National. At the local level, PSR Philadelphia addresses local and regional concerns while aligning our agenda with PSR National. Membership and involvement in the issues we are addressing are open to all.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
— Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862 in Message to Congress