Interdisciplinary approaches to Urban Ecology

When I heard about the UERC symposium I immediately became very excited, because urban ecology is one of my favorite topics.  I was planning my trip to PCU over a week in advance.  But I ended up not having the $15 to pay for it and injured my hand so that I couldn’t safely drive.  I reluctantly started the alternative assignment on the internet and ended up being quite interested with the videos I found on urban ecology and Vimeo.  I watched a quick video by Fuse School called What is Urban Ecology, and then watched a series of short lectures and documentaries.

The video’s I watched were all dramatically different, but all related to my ENVS courses in their emphasis on interdisciplinary work.  In the first video I watched, Maria Kaika discussed in Urban Political Ecology, how Urbanization is a political process, and so you cannot separate politics from urban ecology. Mapping CUU: Critical Urbanism Studio was a short documentary/video montage that stressed the importance of different disciplines collaborating towards more unified goals.  Their project including many different types of experts, such as architects, anthropologists, ecologists, and economists. The Street: An Urban Ecology from TedX Cincinnati was a more sociological lecture, that argued the street is an ecological, social, and economic place all at once where things are complexly organized.  Kate Orff talked about the different projects and studies she’s been part of to influence large, more powerful companies and stresses the need to tie sociology and ecology into architecture in her lecture Urban Ecology as Activism.

There were other connections to my coursework that I noticed in the videos.  Maria Kaika’s critique on SMART technologies and cities and sustainability related a lot to the discussions and critical readings from ENVS 100 on sustainability. Kaika says it is the urban political ecologists job to look at the whole cycle of an object, and see it’s impact in other places as well, such as where SMART technology was manufactured. Kate Orff reinforced the importance of community engagement, similarly to how we talked about environmental engagement in ENVS-295.  Vika Mehta describes the urban street as analogous, or even synonymous to the interconnected ecosystems I learned about in Bio-141, where interactions that are deeply interconnected and complexly organized are occurring everywhere.  Fuse school’s video was the only video other than Kaika’s that addressed why people should study urban ecology, and it left me on a good note.  The video says that it helps us better understand the plants and animals that live along side us, but also, it allows us to build better cities.



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