Transforming Participatory Science into Socioecological Praxis: Valuing Marginalized Environmental Knowledges in the Face of the Neoliberalization of Nature and Science

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Over the last several years I’ve worked with the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP) which is an ethnographically oriented action-research collective trying to better integrate social science within the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project.  Especially important has been work inspired through conversations with my colleague Brian Burke who initially came in as a postdoc to the CLP and through his efforts allowed us to drastically expand the project.  This week a paper Brian and I wrote for a special issue of Environment and Society titled “Transforming Participatory Science into Socioecological Praxis Valuing Marginalized Environmental Knowledges in the Face of the Neoliberalization of Nature and Science” has been published.

Burke, B.J. and N. Heynen (2014) “Transforming Participatory Science into Socio-Ecological Praxis: Valuing Marginalized Environmental Knowledges in the Face of the Neoliberalization of Nature and Science.’ Environment and Society. 5: 7–27

ABSTRACT: Citizen science and sustainability science promise the more just and democratic
production of environmental knowledge and politics. In this review, we evaluate
these participatory traditions within the context of (a) our theorization of how the
valuation and devaluation of nature, knowledge, and people help to produce socioecological
hierarchies, the uneven distribution of harms and benefi ts, and inequitable
engagement within environmental politics, and (b) our analysis of how neoliberalism is
reworking science and environmental governance. We fi nd that citizen and sustainability
science oft en fall short of their transformative potential because they do not directly
confront the production of environmental injustice and political exclusion, including
the knowledge hierarchies that shape how the environment is understood and acted
upon, by whom, and for what ends. To deepen participatory practice, we propose a
heterodox ethicopolitical praxis based in Gramscian, feminist, and postcolonial theory
and describe how we have pursued transformative praxis in southern Appalachia
through the Coweeta Listening Project.
KEYWORDS: citizen science, democratization, Gramsci, participation, science studies,
sustainability science

 

Megapolitan Political Ecology and Urban Metabolism in Southern Appalachia

September 3, 2014 Comments off

For several years I have been directing something called the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP).  A subset of this group has just published a first-cut effort to think through the rapid exurbanization within southern Appalachia through megapolitan geographies, urban political ecology, and notions of urban metabolism.

Gustafson, S., N. Heynen, J.L. Rice, T. Gragson, J. M. Shepherd, C.Strother (forthcoming; on-line) “Megapolitan Political Ecology and Urban Metabolism in Southern Appalachia.” Professional Geographer.

Abstract

Drawing on megapolitan geographies, urban political ecology, and urban metabolism as theoretical frameworks, this article theoretically and empirically explores megapolitan political ecology. First, we elucidate a theoretical framework in the context of southern Appalachia and, in particular, the Piedmont megapolitan region, suggesting that the megapolitan region is a useful scale through which to understand urban metabolic connections that constitute this rapidly urbanizing area. We also push the environmental history and geography literature of the U.S. South and southern Appalachia to consider the central role urban metabolic connections play in the region’s pressing social and environmental crises. Second, we empirically illuminate these human and nonhuman urban metabolisms across the Piedmont megapolitan region using data from the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, especially highlighting a growing “ring of asphalt” that epitomizes several developing changes to patterns of metabolism. The conclusion suggests that changing urban metabolisms indicated by Coweeta LTER data, ranging from flows of people to flows of water, pose a complicated problem for regional governance and vitality in the future.

Director and Graduate Coordinator of UGA’s ICON Ph.D. Program

August 28, 2014 Comments off

Unexpectedly over the summer I was appointed as the Director and Graduate Coordinator of UGA’s Integrative Conservation (ICON) Ph.D. Program.

The ICON Ph.D. program brings together faculty and students from UGA’s Department of Geography, Department of Anthropology, Odum School of Ecology, and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.  ICON is designed to ensure Ph.D. students gain disciplinary depth and learn to collaborate across disciplines and fields of practice to seek integrative solutions to the most complex socio-ecological challenges facing Earth today.

Having been involved with the developed the program since the beginning, it is a privilege to be in a position to lead the effort moving forward.

Over the weekend we had our new cohort orientation and it was exciting to see all of our cohorts (40 students in total) mixing ideas and insights.

Check out our new web page and please pass this along to any students looking for a challenging and rewarding PhD Program.

http://icon.uga.edu/about/

ICON-logo

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

A Pedagogical Model for Integrative Training in Conservation and Sustainability

May 18, 2014 Comments off

In the concluding chapter of an edited book titled Neoliberal Environments: False Promises and Unnatural Consequences, published in 2007, James McCarthy, Scott.Prudham, Paul Robbins, and I wrote:

“In a world where information, data, and evidence are increasingly available from diverse sources, we should not hesitate to consult secondary literatures and sources in the natural sciences. But more radically, at a time when the questions of social and physical sciences increasingly converge, we should not be afraid to retrain ourselves to interpret, communicate, and produce new forms of data outside the confines of our own disciplinary and sub-disciplinary training, and to train the next generation of scholars to be more wholly integrative. Political economic climatology, regulation hydrology, and subaltern wildlife ecology are de facto fields of research. We need to prepare ourselves to engage them.”

This recently published paper I co-authored with another group of innovative thinkers, along with our ongoing efforts to develop the ICON PhD Program here at UGA, are efforts at putting this earlier vision into practice:

Welch-Devine, M., D. Hardy, J. P. Brosius, and N. Heynen. (2014) “A pedagogical model for integrative training in conservation and sustainability.” Ecology and Society 19(2): 10. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06197-190210

 

 

 

Congratulations to Dr. Seth Gustafson!

March 22, 2014 Comments off

I am very pleased to congratulate Seth Gustafson on having just successfully defended his Ph.D. Dissertation that is entitled “Urban Political Ecology and Exurban Environmental Knowledge in Post-2008 Southern Appalachia.”

Seth’s project will no doubt push the boundaries of urban political ecology in important ways.

Also, many thanks to his research committee members Drs. Jennifer L. Rice, Steve Holloway, Josh Barkan and Ted Gragson.

Abstract:

This dissertation draws on urban political economy, urban political ecology, and science
studies to examine the social and environmental consequences of urbanization in historically
rural areas, especially the driving influences prompting new rounds of urban development in the
countryside and as how communities draw upon different forms of knowledge to address the
socioenvironmental burdens and benefits of exurban growth. More specifically, the dissertation
examines how the 2008 financial crisis impacted the politics of environmental knowledge and
uneven development in exurban southern Appalachia. I draw on my diverse training in
qualitative methods of archival work, interviews, and participant observation; quantitative
examination of parcel-level tax data and other socio-economic and socio-ecological data; and
spatial analysis using GIS. The case study I use is a local policy controversy in Macon County,
North Carolina, regarding the regulation of steep mountain slope development to prevent
landslides. This economically peripheral region experienced rapid urban growth from 1960-
2008 but lacked state regulatory or civil society capacity to address the economic,
environmental, and social upheaval resulting from the decades of growth and the post-2008
crisis. With varying degrees of success, local residents had long attempted to mitigate landslides
and other negative environmental externalities of urban growth in their historically rural area, but
did so only under the auspices of massive capital investment via residential construction. I show
that as the financial crisis constricted this influx of capital, it intersected with attitudes toward
expert geological knowledge and non-expert knowledge of the landscape, thereby thwarting
attempts to mitigate landslide vulnerability.

KEY WORDS: urban metabolism, urban political ecology, uneven development,
environmental knowledge, Coweeta LTER, southern Appalachia

Acknowledging Trade-offs and Understanding Complexity: Exurbanization Issues in Macon County, North Carolina

February 26, 2014 Comments off

I have been working more and more with forms of collective writing, or in this case, large group writing, across a couple different groups. This recently published effort is the product of a seminar I co-taught with four other Profs and twelve PhD students from four across disciplines (Geography, Anthropology, Ecology, Forestry). This group represents the first cohort of the new(ish) Integrative Conservation PhD. Program we’ve been involved in building at the University of Georgia.

Vercoe, R. A., M. Welch-Devine, D. Hardy, J. A. Demoss, S. N. Bonney, K. Allen,
P. Brosius, D. Charles, B. Crawford, S. Heisel, N. Heynen, R. G. De
Jesús-Crespo, N. Nibbelink, L. Parker, C. Pringle, A. Shaw and L. Van Sant.
2014. Acknowledging Trade-offs and Understanding Complexity: Exurbanization
Issues in Macon County, North Carolina. Ecology and Society 19 (1): 23.
http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss1/art23/

Interestingly, the third ICON cohort has just been involved in publishing this collectively written column that is a part of the Coweeta Listening Project‘s bi-weekly column in the Franklin Press

Science, Public Policy, Community: LTLT and UGA students form partnership

For our other columns, check out the CLP’s website archive.

New Hungarian Translated Collection on Critical Urban Studies (Kritikai Városkutatás) includes Swyngedouw and Heynen (2003)

February 16, 2014 Comments off

A new book on Critical Urban Studies (Kritikai Városkutatás) has just been published by L’Harmattan Budapest. It was edited by Csaba Jelinek, Judit Bodnar, Marton Czirfusz, and Zoltan Gyimesi. In addition to a number of exciting translations by other urban scholars the collection also includes a paper I wrote with Erik Swyngedouw published in Antipode in 2003.

Table of Contents and Swyngedouw, E., and N.C. Heynen (2014) “Városi politikai ökológia, igazságosság és a léptékek politikája.” In (eds.) Jelinek Csaba, Bodnár Judit, Czirfusz Márton, Gyimesi Zoltán. Kritikai városkutatás pp. 394-416