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Encounters with Urban Nature: Ecology, the City, and the Arts

Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Nature in the City proudly presents:

Encounters with Urban Nature: Ecology, the City, and the Arts

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn with Kevin Anderson
Thursday December 21 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM
One Texas Center | Room 325
505 Barton Springs Road, Austin Tx 78704
*Ticketed free surface and garage parking available. Ticket for validation REQUIRED for free parking. No exceptions.  

To end the year, we turn to the artists for the final word on understanding urban nature. For American writers and visual artists, nature in the city strains against the American aesthetic of nature in which wilderness and rural landscapes are best. How to come to terms with urban landscapes? The writer John Tallmadge reflects on this conflict, “The fact is that urban landscapes are just too mixed up, chaotic, and confused to fit our established notions of beauty and value in nature…Maybe it’s not really nature at all, not a real ecosystem, just a bunch of weeds and exotics mixed up with human junk.” Join us for this final lecture to learn how American artists respond to the challenge of urban nature.

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The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures will explore the complex relationship between the city and nature in America. Our American narrative of nature celebrates wilderness or “pristine nature” and rural or “pastoral nature” in contrast to the degradation of urban landscapes. However, we are now predominately a country of urbanites who have only recreational contact with wilderness or pastoral nature. To compensate for our urban “nature deficit”, we have incorporated “green space” into our cities - preserves, parks, farms, and gardens - to allow for contact with officially sanctioned approximations of wild and pastoral nature in the urban landscape. Ecologists are called on to mediate and to assess whether it is a real ecosystem, and thereby add another chapter to the narrative entitled “urban ecology” in which science measures ecological cycles and ecosystem function in the city. The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures are an attempt to disentangle this complex story of ecology, culture, and the American City and, perhaps, to give us all a better understanding of urban nature and the role it plays in our lives. 

Power Points for previous lunchtime lectures.



Kevin Anderson Ph.D.

Kevin is a geographer and philosopher researching the nature of, and the nature in, urban wastelands. He studied at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania [BA], Durham University, England, Ohio University [MA] where he taught philosophy and symbolic logic. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin with a dissertation entitled: Marginal Nature: Urban Wastelands and the Geography of Nature. His research interests include sewage treatment, soil ecology, and sustainable agriculture, urban ecology and sustainability, riparian ecology, environmental history, philosophy, and literature. He is a co-founder of the Texas Riparian Association and the Upper Tisza Foundation in northeastern Hungary. He runs the Austin Water-Center for Environmental Research which focuses on soil, sewage recycling, and environmental trace contaminants; rivers, riparian ecology, and alluvial aquifers; cities, biodiversity, and avian ecology.

Brought to you by Austin Water Utility, Center for Environmental Research (CER), The University of Texas, Texas A&M University. 

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Austin Nature in the City is sponsored by the Community Trees Division and part of the Development Services family. Nature in the City seeks to support community goals from Imagine Austin and Austin's Urban Forest Plans


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Photo: Hedging Your Bets, Art by Patrick Dougherty, photo by Peggy Clark.


Location Information
One Texas Center
505 Barton Springs Roads 3rd Floor | Room 325
Austin, TX 78704
Contact Information