While many people perceive the human and natural worlds to be separate, nature is pervasive in cities and can have both positive and negative impacts. The rapid growth of both urban areas and human populations around the world has driven global change. Urbanization brings changes in land cover, flows of material and energy, and the distribution and abundance of living things. In this class, we will examine the scope and some of the consequences of these changes. Using both classroom discussions and a short walking trip around Morningside Heights, we will explore some of the ways that we can manage both natural areas (e.g., forested parks) and constructed living systems (e.g., green roofs, street trees) to improve the well-being of both humans and non-human living world.
Matt Palmer is an ecologist and senior lecturer in the department of ecology, evolution, and environmental biology (E3B) at Columbia University. His research interests are rooted in community ecology, with emphases on conservation, restoration, and ecosystem function. He teaches classes, often with extensive field components, to a range of audiences on topics related to ecology, conservation, and organismal biology.