Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology

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Explore why and how people come together to care for nature and cultivate community in places marked by disaster, war, poverty and environmental degradation. 

Find out more and enroll online at edX.

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 civil 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.

Register at edX.

Dates: 2015-04-10 00:00:00 to 2015-05-22 00:00:00 Estimated Workload:

4 hours per week

Course Fee:

Free to audit, fees may apply if pursuing a Verified Certificate

Learning Platform:

edX (CornellX)

Course Facilitator:

Marianne E. Krasny

Marianne E. Krasny

Marianne E. Krasny is a Professor and Director of the Civic Ecology Lab in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. Her scholarship connects environmental learning and social-ecological systems resilience in urban and other settings. 
Through her research, Dr. Krasny seeks to understand how civic ecology practices address environmental and social stresses in cities. She draws inspiration from civic ecology stewards creating beauty in broken places, and seeks to expand opportunities for others to join and benefit from civic ecology practices.
Dr. Krasny has supervised the development and teaching of numerous online courses. She looks forward to sharing her experience and passion for civic ecology in this course, and also to helping course participants understand the broader implications of these practices.

Keith G. Tidball

Keith G. Tidball

Keith G. Tidball is Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Natural Resources where he serves as Associate Director of the Civic Ecology Lab and Program Leader for the Nature & Human Security Program. He is also the New York State Coordinator for the Extension Disaster Education Network. Dr. Tidball's research focuses on the dynamics of natural resource management in disasters and war.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency funds the EECapacity Project through a cooperative agreement with the Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab. This website was developed under Assistant Agreement No. NT-83497401 awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by EPA. The views expressed are solely those of EECapacity, and EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned.