Urban Ecologies 2015 (June 2015, Toronto Canada)

Dates: 17–19 June 2015
Location: OCAD University, Toronto, Canada
Website: http://www.urbanecologies.ca
Deadline for submissions: 28 February 2015

OCAD University’s Faculty of Design presents the 2015 Urban Ecologies conference, the second international conference that will examine the impact of intersecting themes that are shaping the future of design in our cities.

More than ever before, major urban centres will be at the forefront of transformation and change in order to accelerate a sustainable human presence. The framing of the conference deals with the largest possible context of all debates – the limits of our planetary ecosystem.  It is within this “Big Picture” context that the conference will challenge the current economic, political, and social frameworks that generate our urban infrastructure and built environment.   The goal is to relinquish outdated “Bottom Line” models in favour of new, innovative, and synergistic business structures and designs that achieve prosperity without sacrificing social responsibility or ignoring the health of the planetary ecosystems that ultimately sustain us.  Urban Ecologies 2015 will examine the strategies that will be necessary for our cities to move beyond sustainability to becoming net producers of energy and resources: True Ecologies.

Urban environments are the location or destination of an increasing proportion of humanity. The urgent need for cities to achieve a sustainable balance between human impact and environmental resilience is motivating the consideration of ecology as a source of new theoretical, methodological, and metaphorical directions. Ecological approaches to the design of urban environments appropriate the complex, multivariate, and interdependent—yet innately balanced—characteristics of natural systems. In considering cities as urban ecologies, designers must reconcile multiple interlocking imperatives, such as social needs and desires, cultural norms and aspirations, economic restrictions, the allocation of natural resources, and aesthetics.

Urban ecologies operate dynamically across time and space, qualities that challenge the static two-dimensional logic of conventional design methods and instruments. Urban ecology ideas are also dynamic, informed by other theoretical frameworks including systems thinking, sustainability, biomimicry, inclusive design, active living, community engagement, and big data. A close examination of the relationships between ecology and urbanity has the potential to result in strategies and solutions that equip us to design sustainable, inclusive, healthy, engaged, and resilient cities.

Conference Chairs
Roberto Chiotti                      rchiotti@faculty.ocadu.ca<mailto:rchiotti@faculty.ocadu.ca>
Bruce Hinds                          bhinds@ocadu.ca

Conference Director
Jana Macalik                          jmacalik@ocadu.ca
Associate Dean, Research, Outreach and Strategic Projects

Our conference aim is to mine the imaginative realm for potential solutions that position us to transcend our existing mode of urban existence and take us far beyond towards the realization of a radically new system iteration, one that reflects a more balanced and mutually supportive relationship with the natural world.  It will attract local, national, and international participants, drawn from the academic, professional, public service, business, and interdisciplinary realms.

Date:                    17–19 June 2015
Host:                    OCAD University, Toronto, ON
Submission:        400 word proposals and abstracts (excluding references)

Deadline:             30 February 2015
Website:               www.urbanecologies.ca

The following three proposed conference themes have been developed to organize the scholarly research and presentations.  However, any relevant abstract will be considered for acceptance in an open category.

Cities will need long-term visions in order to develop socio-economic, spatial and technical solutions–governance, policy and planning, developing and managing infrastructure, business tactics and incentive, research and development incentives, information and education that will enable them to remain resilient and ready for our current and future challenges.

The desirability of urban living depends upon cities to deliver the highest possible quality of life through community, security, meaningful employment, mobility, recreation, health, and well-being. This can only be achieved when social and environmental standards are understood not as a hierarchy of importance that privileges planetary needs over the needs of humans. They need to be understood as inextricably interconnected and interdependent, in order to provide meaningful and mutually supportive relationships within the larger ecosystem.

Adaptive Capacity
Whereas urban centres are well suited to creating employment and financial resources, they also consume a great deal of energy and non-renewable earth resources and produce a significant amount of harmful waste by-products in accomplishing this benefit. It is time for urban centres to find ways to generate more usable energy and resources than they consume and to only produce waste that can easily be absorbed and contribute to the overall health and sustainability of the larger ecosystem to which they belong. It is hoped that new insights, creativity, and inspiration drawn from the complex dynamics that support balanced, healthy ecosystems will stimulate unconventional, holistic and innovative approaches towards achieving a truly viable future.

Urban Ecologies 2015 invites proposals for consideration in two categories:

·      Abstracts for oral or poster presentations that describe topical practice-based research activities.

·      Proposals for interactive workshops that create topical collaborative learning opportunities for conference participants.

Presentation abstract proposals must consist of the following:

·      A 400-word description of the practice-based research activities to be presented.
·      A single figure—drawing, diagram or image—that represents these activities visually.

The online submission procedure will provide specific text and image formats, the opportunity to select the most applicable conference theme, and the opportunity to select the types of presentation for which you would like to be considered.

Evaluation will be based on the clarity of the abstract, the quality of the practice-based research described, relevance to the conference themes, and adherence to the guidelines.

A key component of Urban Ecologies 2015 will be interactive workshops that create collaborative learning and knowledge production opportunities for conference participants. Of particular interest are workshops that provide tools for engagement with urban ecology ideas that lie at the intersection between conference themes. Workshops should be designed to be approximately 1.5 hours in length.

Workshop proposals must consist of a document of no more than two pages that summarizes the proposed activities under the following headings:

·      Workshop Objectives
·      Activity Breakdown
·      Learning Outcomes
·      Interactive Opportunities
·      Contact Information

Evaluation will be based on the quality of the interactive learning opportunity provided and its relevance to the conference themes. Prospective workshop facilitators are encouraged to contact Urban Ecologies 2015 to discuss their submission in advance of the deadline.

All successful proposals will have the opportunity to be included in a peer-reviewed knowledge dissemination initiative, to be produced for the conference. Planning for a future publishing initiative is currently underway and further details will be available online in early 2015.

All proposals will undergo a blind evaluation process by a diverse selection of internal and external reviewers chosen for their thematic expertise.

All proposals must be submitted online.

Acceptance will begin in mid-January 2014 and will continue until 17:00 EST on February 30, 2015. Authors will be notified of submission status on or before March 15, 2015.

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is http://deseng.ryerson.ca/~fil.

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