Around 2010, we quietly crossed a threshold in the history of society in which more than half of the global population lived in urban areas. By 2050, between seven and eight out of every ten people living on Earth will be part of a city. Cities offer promising opportunities for innovation, efficiency, and improved quality of life that contribute to measures of development, but they also exert pressure on the systems that support them. Ecosystem services, food and water supply, energy delivery and consumption, waste and water management systems, and social infrastructure systems are all taxed as population and density increases, and need to be managed accordingly to ensure environmental sustainability and continued improvements in social conditions.
Taking a systems approach, CLiGS is exploring and advancing the interventions different stakeholders are deploying to affect the sustainability of urbanization as a process and the systems that support cities.
- Work with Arlington County on the Arlington Community Energy Plan
- Partnered with American Institute of Architects Housing Knowledge Community and Dali University to explore sustainable housing in Yunnan Province, China
- Exploration of informal settlements in South Africa and India
- Exploration of human-wildlife conflict between Bengal Tiger populations and local communities in India
- Assessment of institutional systems supporting green infrastructure development in the US
- Case study development for report to Rio +20 on the role of cities in the green economy
NR 5424 Urban Wildlife (3 credits)
Eight of every ten of Americans live in cities or towns of 50,000 people or more, and 50% of the world’s human population now lives in urban areas. What has been the impact of this transition on wildlife populations? While it’s a common assumption that cities are inhospitable to non-human animal life, we have ample evidence today to indicate that not only do some wildlife species survive in urban areas; they can thrive. One positive consequence of this is that people can directly enjoy and appreciate wildlife close to home, and feel a closer connection to the natural world by doing so. A negative consequence is that conflicts between people and wildlife are on the rise. Urbanization has created new challenges for wildlife management professionals, and most have little or no special training in this area. This course will be organized into five learning units: urban landscapes, urban ecosystems, urban habitats and hazards, sociopolitical issues, and special management considerations.
NR 5634 Urban Ecology (3 credits)
Our planet is increasingly urban. Approximately 50% of the world’s people now live in urban areas. In many regions of the world, the rate of urbanization is declining; however, individual cities, metropolitan regions, and urban areas continue to grow (in number, extent and population). In this context, urban ecology is an important approach to environmental science and sustainable development. People throughout the world practice urban ecology. These people are motivated by a desire to create healthy human ecosystems and livable communities in which to live, work, and play. This semester, we will study some of these people, projects, and places. Key questions: What is an urban ecosystem? Are cities sustainable environments? What are civic stakeholders, local communities, and global society doing to ensure that urban and urbanizing landscapes are healthy and desirable places for today’s world?
NR 5884 Landscape Systems and Strategies (3 credits)
The cumulative effects of global trends such as increasing population, expanding cities, improving living standards, accelerating climate change, shifting agriculture, and moving coastlines combine with local pressures on individual landscapes. Over the next century, these keystone processes will fundamentally alter landscapes across the globe creating new challenges for productivity, sustainability, resilience, and adaptability. Landscapes are definable frames of human activities and natural systems, ranging from highly altered, such as urban or agricultural lands, to predominately natural, such as wild or resource lands. We rely on landscape organization for essential social and ecosystem services. The imperative for sustainability requires that we develop conservation, development, and governance processes that treat landscapes with a long view. This course looks at the big picture, by examining the challenge of planning large landscapes for both the intermediate and long term. The objective is to construct a vision for unseen, yet sustainable, landscapes.
*Available in Fall, Spring, and Summer I (12 week, on odd-numbered years)
- Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer I (12 weeks)
- Sample Course Syllabus
NR 5884 Infrastructure for Resilience (3 credits)
As a burgeoning movement in the conservation, development, and planning fields, green (and blue) infrastructure refers to the formal recognition and integration of natural and green spaces, as well as green technologies, into comprehensive planning and design processes as a means to ensure the provision of ecosystem services to surrounding areas. Ranging from site-scale strategies such as green roofs for managing stormwater, to regional networks of riparian corridors, green infrastructure planning and design presents many opportunities and challenges for planners, policy and decision makers, scientists and researchers, landowners, and taxpayers across the urban-rural gradient. This course explores the broader contexts which have given rise to green infrastructure planning and design both in the US and internationally, identifies and examines different critical scales for conceptualizing green infrastructure and practical strategies being employed at each scale, and compares policy goals and programs supporting green infrastructure in the US.
NR 5884 Human-Wildlife Conflicts (3 credits)
Human-wildlife conflict resolution is a rapidly growing area within the wildlife sciences that draws upon the need for multi-disciplinary approaches to resolve complex issues associated with human domination of ecosystems. The problems people have with wild animals and the problems wild animals have with people require the use of cooperative, collaborative, and innovative approaches if they are to be resolved in ways that maximize both social and ecological benefits. Nowhere do the challenges in this area loom larger than in our urban and suburban environments. Within very recent times the growing conflicts between people and wild animals such as beaver, deer, coyote and Canada geese have developed to a point where the entire paradigm of wildlife management has been changed. This course draws upon some of the emerging issues associated with human-wildlife conflicts and through the use of case histories and examples explore the theory and practice of conflict resolution as well as the practical ethics needed to navigate contemporary wildlife management.
NR 5884 Sustainability Case Studies (3 credits)
*NEW* Those of us who are passionate about the environment and sustainability issues often think first about solving problems in far corners of the globe. Examining our own neighborhoods, cities, and regions, can provide insights into the challenges of sustainability on a global scale. Each student will investigate the place where s/he lives and use the information gathered to develop a case study illustrating an important aspect of sustainability. This class provides opportunities to: learn from and draw upon insights from the perspectives and experiences of fellow students and to practice creative thinking, writing, and research skills as we analyze their communities’ connection and interaction with natural resource systems, such as water, food and agriculture, climate, and energy.