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CornellX: Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology

Explore why and how people come together to care for nature and community in cities and after disasters.
6 weeks
4 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule
This course is archived

About this course

Skip About this course

The actions of ordinary people are often absent in studies of urban renewal and urban ecology. Around the world, people who are fed up with environmental degradation and the breakdown of their communities come together to transform blighted vacant lots, trashed-out stream corridors, polluted estuaries, and other “broken places.” Civic ecology practices—such as community gardening, wetlands restoration, river cleanups, and tree planting—are a means for people to express resilience and rebuild communities marked by disaster and disinvestment.

Civic ecology draws on psychology, sociology, political science, education, ecology, and social-ecological systems resilience to understand how and why people care for nature and their communities.

Throughout this course, you will:

  • Explore the people, places, and practices that restore nature and revitalize neighborhoods, making a difference in ways big and small.
  • Discuss and evaluate contemporary thinking in resilience, social-ecological systems, and the relationship between nature and human/community wellbeing.
  • Grasp an understanding of how civic ecology enables those with limited resources to defy and cope with daily struggles, including after disaster and war.
  • Acquire the knowledge and skill set to enact change in your own community.
  • Participate in a civic ecology service learning project to turn classroom learning into real-life application.

This course is ideal for a learner who is intrigued by both social and environmental concerns, or simply has a desire to dive into an emerging 21st century, cross-disciplinary subject area. You will complete this course with a keener awareness of social-ecological issues and concerns, as well as a greater knowledge of the practical steps required to rebuild and maintain community and nature in a world marked by inequality, conflict, and climate change.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills:Psychology, Urban Ecology, Ecology, Ecological Systems, Environmental Degradation, Sociology, Urban Renewal, Political Sciences, Resilience

What you'll learn

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  • Define civic ecology and its practices
  • Describe a diverse range of civic ecology practices, stewards, and places
  • Identify the commonalities among civic ecology practices, including how they emerge and their components, interactions with large systems, and policy implications
  • Apply the conservation ethic and civic engagement foundations of civic ecology in your everyday life
  • Observe, participate in, develop plans for, and/or initiate local civic ecology practices in your community
  • Create a multimedia "story" of civic ecology practice of your choosing
  • Form networks with other course participants interested in continuing to explore civic ecology

Week 1

  • Civic Ecology - What and Why?
  • Principles of Civic Ecology
  • Broken Places

Week 2

  • Love of Life, Love of Place
  • Learning Like Bees

Week 3

  • Creating Community, Creating Connections
  • Oyster Spat and Live Oaks – Memories

Week 4

  • Ecosystem Services
  • Stewardship, Health, and Well-being

Week 5

  • Governance
  • Resistance, Remembrance, Revolt, and Resilience

Week 6

  • Policy Frameworks – Scaling Up and Out
  • Conclusions

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