Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems
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Bringing People Back In: Civic Ecology in Urban Social-Ecological Systems. Keith G. Tidball Civic Ecology Initiative Dept. Of Natural Resources, Cornell University [email protected]

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Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

Bringing People Back In: Civic Ecology in UrbanSocial-Ecological Systems

Keith G. Tidball

Civic Ecology Initiative

Dept. Of Natural Resources, Cornell University

[email protected]

2008 Summer Joint Session of the Northeast Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Directors, and the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching. Washington, DC


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

Introduction- Urban Challenges

Foundations- Theory and Key Concepts

Civic Ecology Initiative- What is it?

Examples of Civic Ecology Programs

Examples of Civic Ecology Research

Examples of Civic Ecology Teaching

Conclusions


An urban challenge

An Urban challenge?

Urbanization & Sustainability are two important and overlapping “systems” that require study urgently and have both societal and ecological implications.

United Nations World Urbanization . www.un.org/.../publications/WUP2005/2005wup.htm

“[Urban] people cannot care about what they have not experienced. Neither will they have much interest in paying the taxes or providing the political support which is necessary to maintain [natural areas like] national parks.”

 — JUDY LING WONG


Humans in or out

James Watt, US Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan administration, expressed a popular belief when he wrote that the earth is “merely a temporary way station on the road to eternal life … The earth was put here by the Lord for His people to subdue and use for profitable purposes on their way to the hereafter.”

“...humans are part of the landscape, have always been so, and...if managed, do not have to be viewed as destructive agents” Aldo Leopold

“Scientists (and extensionists) are key participants in the struggle to maintain the world’s biodiversity and manage its natural resources... (we) cannot effectively contribute without models that incorporate the activities of our own species.” Collins et al

Humans: In or Out?


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

The Urban Environment Is Complex!

See: http://resilientgreen.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/a-new-map/


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

  • System Dynamicsentails making three fundamental shifts of mind relative to our traditional way of thinking.

    • From linear, laundry list thinking to a circular, closed-loop view of causality.

    • 2. A shift from an external to an internal focus on performance, how we, not others, are responsible for most of the results we get.

    • 3. A focus on an operational view of how things actually work. This is in contrast to traditional analysis methods based on statistical correlation of trends from the past.


Resilience

Resilience

Panarchy diagram courtesy of The Sustainable Scale Project.http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingScale/MeasuringScale/Panarchy.aspx

Resilience theory is an expanding body of ideas that attempts to provide explanations for the source and role of change in adaptive systems, particularly the kinds of change that are transforming.

Resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. R. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig. 2004. Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social–ecological systems. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss2/art5


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

We combine these notions in our urban Civic Ecology Initiative...which asks: “How might we better understand civic environmentalism, so that we can help foster its positive ecological and social outcomes in cities?”


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

CivicEcologyis... a Philosophy, a Science, a Practice...

Community Gardening

Values

Urban Ecology

Community Forestry

Resilience Theory

Ethics

Watershed restoration

Biophilia

Human Dimensions

Civic Agriculture

Benefits of

nature exposure

Land Ethic

Other Urban Restoration

Ecological/Environmental

& Conservation Anthropology


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

Civic Ecology Education

For civic ecology practices to endure, they must continue to integrate new participants, including young people. Civic ecology education refers to the learning and social and ecological outcomes that occur when young people and other novices become engaged in civic ecology practices.


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

Program Examples


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

Research Examples- Resilient Green

Role of Community Forestry in NOLA, 9th Ward Disaster Recovery. 2007

Urban Community Greening: Exploring a Comprehensive Strategy for Building Sustainable Cities 2006

Survey of Urban Community Greening Efforts to Reduce Violence and Conflict in Cape Town, South Africa Townships. 2007


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

Research Examples- Civic Ecology Education


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

Teaching examples

Urban Environments Course

Cornell, Natural Resources 494/694 “Urban Environments/Alternative Spring Break NYC.” Spring 2008.

Green Cities Course

Cornell, City and Regional Planning 384/584 “Green Cities.” With Elan Shapiro, Fall 2007.

Cayuga Lake Watershed Course

Cornell, Natural Resources 694 “Transdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Challenges: Towards a Report Card for Cayuga Lake. Spring 2008


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

In Conclusion...

“Conservationists will be a lot more effective if they take cities and the people who live in them much more seriously. Cities have a bad name in many quarters of the conservation community . . . Conversely, the conservation movement has a bad name among many who work on urban problems . . . The truth is that protecting nature and improving city life are interdependent goals. Conservation and urban leaders are natural allies. The challenge is in making the right connections.”

— TED TRZYNA


Bringing people back in civic ecology in urban social ecological systems

"...the weeds in a city lot convey the same lesson as the redwoods."

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

-- Aldo Leopold

Thank you!


References

References

  • Collins, J. et al. 2000. A New Urban Ecology. American Scientist. Vol. 88, No. 5.

  • Flader, S. L. & Callicott, J. B., eds. (1991). The River of the Mother God and other essays by Aldo Leopold. Madison WI: Univ. WI Press.

  • United Nations World Urbanization . www.un.org/.../publications/WUP2005/2005wup.htm

  • Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. R. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig. 2004. Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social–ecological systems. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss2/art5/

  • Watt,J. “Ours is the Earth,” Saturday Evening Post, January/February 1982, pp. 74‐75.


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