Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Forthcoming book

Civic Ecology | The MIT Press

Civic Ecology

Adaptation and Transformation from the Ground Up


In communities across the country and around the world, people are coming together to rebuild and restore local environments that have been affected by crisis or disaster. In New Orleans after Katrina, in New York after Sandy, in Soweto after apartheid, and in any number of postindustrial, depopulated cities, people work together to restore nature, renew communities, and heal themselves. In Civic Ecology, Marianne Krasny and Keith Tidball offer stories of this emerging grassroots environmental stewardship, along with an interdisciplinary framework for understanding and studying it as a growing international phenomenon.
Krasny and Tidball draw on research in social capital and collective efficacy, ecosystem services, social learning, governance, social-ecological systems, and other findings in the social and ecological sciences to investigate how people, practices, and communities interact. Along the way, they chronicle local environmental stewards who have undertaken such tasks as beautifying blocks in the Bronx, clearing trash from the Iranian countryside, and working with traumatized veterans to conserve nature and recreate community. Krasny and Tidball argue that humans’ innate love of nature and attachment to place compels them to restore nature and places that are threatened, destroyed, or lost. At the same time, they report, nature and community exert a healing and restorative power on their stewards.

About the Authors

Marianne Krasny is Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Director of the Civic Ecology Lab at Cornell University.
Keith Tidball is Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Natural Resources and Associate Director of the Civic Ecology Lab at Cornell University and State Coordinator for the New York Extension Disaster Education Network.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Call for Papers- Special Issue of Sustainability Science

Call for Papers for Special Issue
Traps! Expanding Thinking on Persistent Maladaptive States
in Pursuit of Resilience

We   acknowledge   that   our   societies   are   far   from   sustainability.   The   cascading   crises    environmental,  financial, political and social-­  create a moment in history that scientists, policy makers  and  corporate  actors  either  consider  as  windows  of  opportunity  or  as  situations  of entrapment. This ongoing tension can be enlightened with the concept of “traps,” especially by unravelling how traps are understood, perceived and what sustains them. The debate on traps in  socialecologicaltechnological  systems  will advance  sustainability  science  by creating  new meaning    and   deepening    the   thinking    on   what   inhibits    our   societies    from   escaping unsustainability  traps, by bringing interdisciplinary  perspectives  from social sciences into the sustainability debate with the concept of stability and instability over the course of achieving sustainability  and  also  by  bridging  two  scholarships  that  address  actively  the  sustainability debate: resilience approach and sustainability transitions approach.  

In this special issue we revisit the conceptualization  of poverty and rigidity traps (Carpenter and Brock 2008) by considering how representations  of stability landscapes can affect spatial and temporal micro  and macrodynamics  which shape the very landscapes that contain these traps. Transformations  are radical changes of micro  and/or macrodynamics  that reshape the possibilities to escape these traps by reshaping the basins of attraction and the landscape as a whole. Conceptualizing  and then representing  via heuristic models broader scale dynamics in the form of dynamic landscapes and smaller scale dynamics in the form of stability landscapes and basins of attraction raises new questions and new understanding  of how the lenses with which  we  approach  time  and  space  dynamics  impact  the  way  SES  develop  and/or  can  be managed over time. In this thinking, institutions and how they operate in relation to micro and macrodynamics     resemble     some    archetypical     behavioral     patterns    conceptualized     as institutional traps. 

Rigidity  traps occur in social–ecological  systems  when institutions  become  highly  connected, selfreinforcing,  and  inflexible  (Gunderson  and  Holling  2002).  Poverty  traps  (Azariadis  and Stachurski  2005,  Bowles,  Durlauf  et  al.  2006,  Carter  and  Barrett  2006,  Barrett,  Travis  et  al.
2011), with particular emphasis on nonmonetary  impoverishment traps, distinct from rigidity traps, represent a situation in which people are impoverished  by circumstances  beyond their immediate control (Bowles, Durlauf et al. 2006). Thresholds, or tipping points, indicate regime shifts in socialecological systems and are related to traps, especially when we visualize traps in  terms  of  multiple  domains  in  stability  landscape  models  (HerrfahrdtPähle  and  PahlWostl
2012).    Carpenter  and  Brock  (2008)  emphasize  the  changing  nature  of  traps  in  their  efforts  to
model  adaptive  capacity.  These  scholars  argue  that  traps  represent  persistent  maladaptive states,  and  that  the  conditions  that  lead  to  rigidity  or  poverty  arise  in  opposite  phases  of  the
adaptive  cycle.  Rigidity  can  set  in  when  connectivity  and  potential  have  increased,  while adaptive capacity has atrophied. At the other end of the cycle, when connectivity  or potential are low, impoverishment can result. We take this notion of impoverishment to include multiple capitals, in addition to monetary, and expand upon this notion herein.

This special issue will pick up where Carpenter and Brock, and more recently Boonstra and de Boer (2014) left off by expanding  upon not only functional  but also discursively  constructed traps,  and  their  relative  panarchies  or  “nestedness”  in  socialecological  systems.  Examples include   traps   in  urban   SES   contexts   brought   about   by  adopting   an  ecosystem   services perspective, traps brought about by societal discourses emphasizing anthropocentrism,  as well as  explaining which institutional mechanisms underline traps over time and across scales. The core  aim of the special issue is therefore to expand and refine the concept of poverty traps, rigidity  traps (Carpenter and Brock 2008), and perhaps theorize new kinds of traps and their implications  for resilience scholarship,  as well as to work towards developing  a typology of traps, and relevant scalar implications,  from a multidisciplinary  team of scholars contributing to the special issue.  

Our proposed  special issue contributes  to the journal’s  efforts to probe interactions  between global, social, and human systems, the complex mechanisms  that lead to degradation  of these systems,  and  concomitant   risks  to  human  well-­being.   The  proposed  traps”  special  issue presents a unique, novel, and transdisciplinary effort to simultaneously understand phenomena and solve problems, uncertainty and application of the precautionary principle, the coevolution of  knowledge  and recognition  of problems,  and tradeoffs  between  global  and local problem solving.  
Important Dates

30 August 2014                   Submission of Abstracts to Guest Editors (500 words excl. references)

15 September 2014           Communication about Accepted Abstracts 

30 October 2014                 Submission of Full Manuscripts to Guest Editors

30 November 2014            Communication of inorout Decision of Guest Editors to Authors

30 January 2015                  Submission of Revised Full Manuscripts to Sustainability Science Journal April 2016                              Publication of Special IssueTraps”  
Guest Editors:
Keith Tidball, PhD, Asst. Director Civic Ecology Lab
(Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, USA) (email:

Niki Frantzeskaki, PhD.
(Dutch Research Institute For Transitions, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands)