Essay examining the opportunity for interdisciplinary institutional cooperation and focus to address urban design and environmental issues.
(2012) The Chronicle of Higher Education. Today’s discourse celebrates city as the future. The authors are skeptical that “urban triumphalism” blinds academia to “the vital relationship between the country and the city, and right at a time ripe for innovation in the academic fields most concerned with this relationship, particularly urban planning and ecology.” Ecology is often treated as “trendy design or embellishment rather than a discipline.” The science of ecology and conservation vilify cities as the enemies from which to protect nature while the discipline of urban ecology is not recognized broadly within ecology circles. Today’s conservationists must “energize young urban dwellers who now make up most of the world… to do conservation where they live, so that nature is seen as relevant and connected to modern life.
“There are two big problems here. The first is with architecture and urban planning, fields that are fractured by internecine battles that pit environmentally minded urbanists against one another for control of intellectual territory in academe and in design ateliers. The debates between “new urbanists” and “landscape urbanists” have been among the fiercest in the field. Meanwhile, in most academic departments as well as in practice, ecology is too often treated as a trendy design element or embellishment rather than a fundamental discipline, if it is considered at all. And some very influential urbanists, like Glaeser, dismiss many ecological concerns out of hand as impediments to efficient economies of scale in cities, believing that the efficiency of cities is sufficient on its own to solve our ecological problems.”