Urban Ecology Seminar:
Technology Enhanced
Blended Learning
Urban Ecology: TOPICS and PROCESS

The seminar Urban Ecology (Stadtökologie, LV-Nr. 825073 WS 2011/12 ) at the University of Innsbruck, is planned for an initial two-day block to start us off, followed by a with somewhat experimental web-based seminar with on-line distance learning (eLearning) support in between.

For the proposed procedere, see also: 1.1 Overview, procedere

As a seminar this is expecting active student participation: Based on the initial "lecture units" each introducing a specific topic, you are asked to prepare, and submit for discussions on the web-based discussion forum, reactions to the topic of the lecture unit and any explicit (self chosen) assignments.

Lectures are supported by a (on-line, what else) collection of literature in PDF format, (PDF format Background Reading for on-line browsing, download, and review/comments (extra Brownie points for a good ABSTRACT !) to the discussion board.   The discussion of the topics is supported by:

  • an on-line web-based discussion board, where users can also generate their own topics and threads;
  • an embedded management system for questions and comments: each slide or page unit in the lectures offers the possibility to submit a comment or questions, to which answers and comments (by other students or the lecturer [visibility to othes can be restricted]) can be posted; questions and any comments are "announced" by eMail.

The assignments are supported byb on-line modeling toolsi, starting with a dynamic land use change model (LUC) that can be used to test a few ideas on urban development and material and energy budgets.

Beyond the active participation in the series of lectures and discussions, students can elect to prepare and submit a "term paper" (extra brownie points) on any one of the proposed "challenges/questions" or a self-defined comparable topic.

TOPICS: a list to start with

  1. Definitions: what is a city, what makes cities important, some basic data and statistics;
  2. Socio-economics: what makes a city attractive, economic activities, functions of a city, infrastructure and services, demographics and social structure, social capital, cui bonum ?
  3. History, physiography: when and where, historical development of cities, political context, urbanization, location issues;
  4. Land use dynamics: why do cities grow (or shrink ?), how and whereto ? master plans and modeling, cellular spatial automata;
  5. Urban Sprawl: land use dynamic continued; urban sprwal has a negative connotation: WHY ?
  6. Urban Climate: cities change/make their own climate; how, why, albedo heat islands, ventilation and scy scrapers, sealed surfaces and urban stormwater, indoor climate control; is there a "good climate" ?
  7. Structure: spatial patterns and distributions, structural density; where is what (and why ?) does it matter ?
  8. Energy, transportation: what cities need most ? energy flow ecology;
  9. City machine: producing what ? energy and material flow, resources requirements, waste streams, the ecological footprint, sustainability, discounts and NPV;
  10. Urban stress:
    • - Urban air pollution;   - water resources: shortages, flooding, pollution;   - Noise, NIR;   - reduced "nature" and biodiversity   - crowding, contagion, crime.
  11. Uncertainty and risk: individual versus societal;
  12. Criteria, objectives, constrains: what do we want ?
  13. How do we decide (multi-criteria analysis, DSS), rational decision making;
  14. Regulatory frameworks: dos and dont's, the pleasure of telling other what to do;
  15. City planning and design: how to get it, does it help ?
  16. Systems analysis: how to do explain (everything), DIR: doing it right .......
  17. Tools and methods:
    • Simulation models, spatial analysis (GIS);
    • Specific models:   - Land use dynamics   - Air quality   - Water resources


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