OOS 26-4 - Earth stewardship in an urbanized world

Wednesday, August 10, 2011: 2:30 PM
16B, Austin Convention Center
Frederick Steiner, University of Texas, Austin, TX

We inhabit a vulnerable planet. The devastation caused by natural disasters, such as the southern Asian tsunami, hurricanes Katrina and Ike, the floods in Australia and Brazil, and the earthquakes in China’s Sichuan province, Haiti, and Chile—as well as the ongoing depletion and degradation of the world’s natural resources caused by a burgeoning human population—has made it clear that “business as usual” is no longer sustainable. We need to find ways to improve how we live on this planet while minimizing our impact on it. The author advocates a design practice founded in ecology and democracy, and informed by critical regionalism and reflection.


A foundation for a more ecological approach to planning and design is presented that adopts an expansive view of ecology, encompassing human and natural, urban and wild, environments. Precedents for human ecological design are provided through Texas examples. These precedents help set the stage for emerging Texas urbanism, as well as broader concerns beyond the Lone Star State, including regionalism and urbanism in China and Italy. The lessons from human and natural disasters are examined and explored. Finally, the author offers a blueprint for designing with nature to help heal the planet’s vulnerability.

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Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.