Past, Present, and Future Design of Infrastructures for a Resilient Society
Friday, August 9, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Aditorium, Rm 1, Minneapolis Convention Center
Alexander J. Felson
Alexander J. Felson
Human systems rely not only on built infrastructure (roads, pipes, etc) but also on social, cultural, and ecological infrastructures that are inseparable from the physical spaces we inhabit. Understanding the complexity and dynamic interactions between these different infrastructures is critical for socio-ecological systems to develop in a way that supports ecological resiliency presently and into the future. As expansive as ecologists roles have been in building our global infrastructure, greater synthesis is needed between the ecological, social, and cultural fields to realize our capacity for a sustainable society. This symposium will bring speakers representing environmental history, landscape design, political ecology, and ecological engineering together with esteemed ecologists to build on the interdisciplinary space created by the conference theme. After introductions, the first speaker will begin the symposium with a global overview on the relationship between human and non-human infrastructure, with a particular focus on underlying causes of change in different parts of the globe. An environmental historian will then draw from work on ecology and development of North American regions and cities to bring an historical perspective on the physical, cultural, and social factors that have undergirded human activities and bring the session up to the “present day” infrastructure. The third speaker will present ongoing work on landscape-scale ecosystem functions and modern “green infrastructure” installations. Using climate change as a context, the fourth speaker will discuss the interactions between current political infrastructure and community activism as it relates local and national environmental decision-making to urban ecosystems. Transitioning from the present-day segment to the future is an ecological engineer who will present on infrastructure and resilience in relation to water and wastes, the latter with an emphasis on the potential for a "circular economy" for phosphorus. The final speaker in the session will give a forward-looking presentation on “landscape infrastructure” which looks to “reposition...ecology as a sophisticated, instrumental system of essential services, resources, processes and agents that underpin contemporary urban economies towards the 22nd century.” This interdisciplinary range of talks united by a common purpose of understanding the forms, functions, and dynamics of socio-ecological infrastructures will then culminate in a moderated panel discussion to synthesize the disciplines and create recommended steps forward for a sustainable path towards earth stewardship and system resilience. Audience feedback will conclude the session.
Urban Ecosystem Ecology Section, Applied Ecology Section, Human Ecology Section