Call For Participation

The goal of the conference is to generate papers for an edited volume; therefore, the structure is designed to allow for the kind of discussions that will foster coherence among the papers.  We are planning paper sessions and working sessions on 4 main themes.  Each of these sessions is explicitly interdisciplinary to identify the interconnections among research interests and foster them in discussion.  There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion during the paper sessions.  Working sessions in which participants will work to elaborate the connections among their works will follow the paper sessions.  In some senses these working sessions will be used to sketch the introductions to groups of chapters as well as to identify areas where more work can build connections among the final essays.

The themes of the sessions are described briefly below.  Each of these sessions is designed to bring together participants who begin their inquiries from different starting points but also reach out to consider a similar array of issues.  Consequently, it is expected that the emphasis of each paper will be narrower than scope of a session but that the authors will highlight their thoughts about where the bridges among disciplines may lie.  I also hope that you will take these session titles and examples as license to think broadly about how your work would contribute. 

Because of the overlapping nature of urban environmental interests you may have some difficulty locating your research within one theme or another.  In that case, feel free to identify two areas.  Depending on the number of participants and distribution of papers, new or more specific themes may also emerge.  If you have any questions about where best to place a paper, please contact Kirstin Dow, (803) 777-2482 or  I would enjoy the opportunity to discuss this project with you. 

Session Themes

  • Historical Development and Ecological Change  This session will bring together research on ecological patterns and changes associated with the history of urbanization.  Possible topics include urban design, history of urban growth and economic development, urban revitalization initiatives as they effect ecological factors such as green space, land filling, management of waterways, vegetation cover, impervious surface space, habitat diversity.  Changes in engineering design and ecological implications of past infrastructure decisions would contribute to this discussion. 
  • Ecological Processes and Urban Politics 

  • If we think of the urban landscape as a mosaic of habitats, we need to consider both the ecological and social processes that shape those habitats.  For example, the spatial configurations of greenways and park systems or the pressures of growth on the urban fringe as the rural areas are transformed would be useful contributions to discussions here.  Local politics also contribute to the management of these habitats, from designing tree ordinances to creating neighborhood covenants and setting the lot sizes.  Spatial and social distributions of environmental amenities and risks are yet another reflection of planning and politics in the landscape.  Contemporary debates over planning philosophy and goals are also relevant here.
  • Urban Landscapes and Environmental Ideals

  • Another set of discussions will focus on the links between the physical characteristics of urban landscapes and social ideals of the environment.  Topics that might fit here range from the ecology of a perfect suburban lawn to turf management to ideals in subdivision design and cultural trends in gardening. Philosophical explorations might consider awareness of urban ecosystems and senses of place. 
  • Representing and Knowing the Urban Environment

  • This session will focus on the variety of ways people come to understand and communicate about urban environments.  Scientific investigation brings answers from one set of questions as artists and writers create and convey a different set of understandings.  A great deal of environmental education can take place within a city.  The understanding of the general public will not match the experiential knowledge of gardeners nor will long-term residents and recent arrivals share the same sense of an urban area as “nature,” “home,” “beautiful,” “transformed,” “impoverished,” or “artificial.”  All comments on the rediscovery of ecology within cities would be relevant here.
In order to facilitate organization of sessions and dialog during the workshop, we are asking presenters to provide an initial abstract of approximately 250 words, which will be posted on the conference website and used to  groups, and a second extended abstract to be circulated among participants.  The initial abstract should be forwarded to Dr. Kirstin Dow at by December 15, 2000.  Presenters will be contacted by January 15 and asked to submit an extended abstract of approximately 750-1000 words by February 16, 2001, so that it can be circulated prior to the conference. 

Abstracts will also be accepted for a poster session to be held (if sufficient posters are proposed) in conjunction with an evening reception on Monday night.  The purpose of the poster session is to allow faculty and graduate students to highlight research related to, but perhaps not immediately relevant to, the conference topics.  In the case of graduate students, research may be preliminary and not yet ready for publication in the conference volume.

Prepared by Kim D. Buchanan.
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