Austin Nature in the City is proud to present
The Elemental City: Cycles, Services, and Urban Ecology
With Kevin Anderson
*This is a Brown Bag Lunch and Learn
A city is a built landscape designed to support dense populations of humans. Urban ecologists, engineers, architects, and environmental managers approach urban nature as a functional component of the urban landscape. They study the city as an ecosystem for scientific understanding of how cities function ecologically and then apply that understanding to urban environmental management. In this narrative, the “metabolism” of the city is measurable as flows of water, waste, and elements through pipes and cycles. Urban ecosystem cycles are then seen as providing ecological services that can be managed as a sustainable urban metabolism. This lecture will examine this narrative of the Elemental City and urban ecology.
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The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures will explore the complex relationship between the city and nature in America. Our American narrative of nature celebrates wilderness or “pristine nature” and rural or “pastoral nature” in contrast to the degradation of urban landscapes. However, we are now predominately a country of urbanites who have only recreational contact with wilderness or pastoral nature. To compensate for our urban “nature deficit”, we have incorporated “green space” into our cities – preserves, parks, farms, and gardens – to allow for contact with officially sanctioned approximations of wild and pastoral nature in the urban landscape. Ecologists are called on to mediate and to assess whether it is a real ecosystem, and thereby add another chapter to the narrative entitled “urban ecology” in which science measures ecological cycles and ecosystem function in the city. The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures are an attempt to disentangle this complex story of ecology, culture, and the American City and, perhaps, to give us all a better understanding of urban nature and the role it plays in our lives.
Kevin Anderson Ph.D.
Kevin is a geographer and philosopher researching the nature of, and the nature in, urban wastelands. He studied at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania [BA], Durham University, England, Ohio University [MA] where he taught philosophy and symbolic logic. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin with a dissertation entitled: Marginal Nature: Urban Wastelands and the Geography of Nature. His research interests include sewage treatment, soil ecology, and sustainable agriculture, urban ecology and sustainability, riparian ecology, environmental history, philosophy, and literature. He is a co-founder of the Texas Riparian Association and the Upper Tisza Foundation in northeastern Hungary. He runs the Austin Water-Center for Environmental Research which focuses on soil, sewage recycling, and environmental trace contaminants; rivers, riparian ecology, and alluvial aquifers; cities, biodiversity, and avian ecology.
Brought to you by Austin Water Utility, Center for Environmental Research (CER), The University of Texas, Texas A&M University. Nature in the City – Austin is sponsored by the Community Trees Division, and helps to implement the Imagine Austin and Urban Forest Plans.
Mark Your Calendars! The 2017 Calendar for Kevin Anderson at One Texas Center can be found here: http://