Climate change and design thinking: Networks and knowledge sharing to build technical capacity in urban areas

Cities around the world are investing in urban forests as a form of green

Danica
Doroski
Kroon 321
2:45pm
Cities around the world are investing in urban forests as a form of green infrastructure. While significant resources are being dedicated to these projects, there is little research on urban forest dynamics and even less on woody plant recruitment and regeneration in urban forests. The few urban recruitment studies that have been done suggest that in urban settings and on degraded sites, recruitment can be one of the most limiting factors to reforestation. Working in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the US Forest Service on experimental plots that were established as part of the MillionTreesNYC Initiative, we measured natural regeneration in 54 plots in a high-traffic urban park. Pre-planting treatments such as compost amendments increased the number of woody plant recruits but had a trade-off in terms of native vs. non-native regeneration. Interactions between pre-planting treatments also impacted the number of woody plant recruits by either increasing or decreasing woody plant recruitment depending on whether or not treatments were implemented independently or in combination with others. These findings have the potential to be implemented in future planting projects to encourage natural regeneration and steer species composition to achieve a healthy and sustainable urban forest in NYC and other cities worldwide.

While emerging literature on urban climate adaptation

Sam
Geldin
Kroon 321
2:45pm
While emerging literature on urban climate adaptation has begun assessing how actions and policies diffuse through transnational networks of cities, little if any work has examined the role that virtual knowledge-sharing platforms play in city-to-city policy learning and transfer. This study examines how the 'best practice' resources digitally documented by government, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations shape local policy actions on-the-ground. Through nearly 40 semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and a social network analysis of virtual platform users, this research explores the external and internal factors influencing local policy action and diffusion among more than half a dozen Indonesian member cities of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), an eight-year Rockefeller Foundation initiative. Evidence suggests that the 'best practices' promoted by most knowledge networks are not selected, documented, replicated, or shared equally, reinforcing both inefficient flows of knowledge and existing resource barriers faced by medium-sized cities. This study's results, in effect, will help direct practitioner efforts to build more technical capacity than virtual knowledge, form partnerships that avoid replicating existing work, and disseminate useful adaptation strategies with greater targeted impact.

Design thinking is a creative teaching and learning approach

Yanin
Kramsky
Kroon 321
2:45pm
Design thinking is a creative teaching and learning approach that prioritizes observation, problem framing and hands-on prototyping. When compared to more direct methods of classroom instruction, design thinking has been shown to boost students' comprehension of real world, complex domains; yet, few studies have examined the potential of this approach to engage at-risk students in analyzing the complex environmental challenges disproportionately impacting their lives and neighborhoods, such as urban water depletion. This study evaluates the potential and limitations of design thinking for equipping at-risk students with an ability to understand and propose solutions to the water challenges facing drought-ridden Los Angeles, CA. Over the course of three months, groups of high-school-age at-risk students participated in design thinking workshops, proposing solutions to curb heavy water consumption and replenish groundwater in Los Angeles. Drawing exercises and questionnaires were used to compare participants' comprehension and values surrounding urban water usage before and after participating in design thinking workshops. Finally, semi-structured interviews were conducted to evaluate the thought processes guiding participants' design decisions during workshops, as well as their attitudes toward design thinking as a teaching methodology and learning approach.

Structural Vulnerabilities of a Changing Global Urban System.

Chris
Shughrue
Kroon 321
2:45pm
Structural Vulnerabilities of a Changing Global Urban System. Urban areas are increasingly linked to one another through flows of people, goods, information, and finance. Local crises can generate network-scale impacts that spread across these linkages, as illustrated by the global economic effects of the T_hoku Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Despite recent observations of hazards spreading across societal linkages, little attention has been given to the possibilities for climate change impacts to generate similar systemic impacts. This research couples graph theory with urban science to understand systemic properties of urbanization and fragilities to climate impacts to provide new perspective on climate-society interactions. In this work, I estimated the quantity of industrial production flows between 1,686 urban areas for each year between 1990 and 2012. I found that smaller urban areas are playing an increasingly important role in articulating the network, both because they are rapidly growing and because they have increasingly global positions in the network. The positions of the largest urban areas shifted toward roles as local connectors from previously held roles as global connectors. The relative quantity of production shifted from urban areas in Western Europe and North America toward East Asia and Eastern Europe. These statistical and geographic shifts indicate a more evenly connected network in which random failures are more likely to generate systemic impacts than the failures of the largest urban areas.