SYMP 4 - Building a Global Sense of Place, Responsibility, and Stewardship

Tuesday, August 9, 2011: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Ballroom E, Austin Convention Center
Organizer: Mimi E. Lam
Co-organizer: Alexandria K. Poole
Moderator: Mimi E. Lam
Fostering a global sense of place is integral to Earth stewardship, but sense of place is primarily studied in geography, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy, not ecology. This symposium introduces ecologists to sense of place by inviting researchers from various sub-disciplines within ecology, the social sciences, and the humanities to explore the intricate, embedded relationships of people with places. Places encapsulate local ecosystems and their resources, but also reflect individual and group identities, mediate social life, and embody cultural values. Sense of place develops from deep attachments to physical landscapes given meaning by human experiences. Inseparable from the experiential ecology passed down by generations of indigenous people as traditional ecological knowledge, sense of place is based on an environmental ethic that fosters reciprocity with nature and community members. But field ecology is also based on place, as field studies are conducted in specific locations, often over long times. As ecologists study the dynamics that occur between organisms and their responses to changing environments, investigating the natural history and ecology of the place may inform their research, as will understanding how humans relate with and alter landscapes in complex social-ecological systems. Exploring sense of place as an integrated theoretical construct may uncover some practical ways forward to sustainable living, as implicit place-based psychological and social processes often impinge on collective geographic decision-making and natural resource management. A strong sense of place implies an intimate, reciprocal relationship with a place, with repeated opportunities for learning over multiple generations by groups and individuals. The historical relationships that inhabitants have with local places and resources shape their common knowledge, practices and identities, constituting valuable cultural property, e.g., with salmon in the Pacific Northwest and natural resources damaged by the Exxon Valdez and Gulf of Mexico oil disasters. These relationships should be considered in responsive environmental policies, as they have non-market value embodying the local ecological knowledge and cultural investment of individuals and communities. Humans develop a sense of place in every environment to which they are exposed: so one concrete step towards Earth stewardship would be to explore the drivers and impacts of human experiences in urban, rural, and remote landscapes. By understanding and valuing what constitutes sense of place, the ecological community can facilitate more responsible stewardship of the global place we share as our common home.
Human Ecology, Natural History, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
8:10 AM
8:30 AM
Sustaining local senses of place in a global world: Some critical reflections
Daniel R. Williams, USDA Forest Service; Laurie Yung, University of Montana; Michael E. Patterson, University of Montana
9:10 AM
Identifying drivers of biocultural homogenization and an urban sense of place
Alexandria K. Poole, Elizabethtown College; Ricardo Rozzi, IEB-UMAG-UNT; Ana Elisa Pérez-Quintero, University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras and SEEDS; Yanet Medina, Universidad de Magallanes Programa de Conservación Biocultural Subantártica - Parque Etnobotánico Omora
9:30 AM
10:00 AM
11:00 AM
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