Social Ecological Systems for Spatial Design

  • Node A-Group 1
  • Node B-Godshalk.jpeg
  • Node C-Group 2
  • Node D-Group 3
  • Node E-Talanoa Dialogue
  • Node F-Climate Change

In this new course, designed and led by Doctorate of Sustainable Urbanism candidate Andrea Godshalk, students interested in leading the implementation of sustainability and climate change action explored the theory and practical applicability of addressing climate change through a systems-thinking approach. Students spent time exploring climate-related challenges facing cities around the globe, documenting and highlighting strategies for adaptation and mitigation. This research was captured with the intention of being able to share to a wider audience through social media and other formats that might be useful to a variety of people. Students addressed topics such as sea level rise, the cost of disasters and inaction, multimodal transportation, urban forestation, refugees, and how women and girls affect—and are affected by—climate change.

Students also repeatedly engaged with regional experts and leaders in climate change adaptation and mitigation, including Aaron Young from OneSTL, the sustainability program of East West Gateway Regional Council of Governments, and Colin Wellenkamp, the executive director of Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. These conversations helped to frame the concerns about climate change within the St. Louis region.

At the end of the semester, the students worked with OneSTL to host a Talanoa Dialogue during the monthly Sustainability Lab on April 30, 2019. The Talanoa Dialgoue is a process initiated during 2017 UN COP23 to facilitate conversation between business, governments, and the public to accelerate action on climate change. It prompts communities to implement the Paris Agreement by asking the following questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

The event featured a poster gallery of the student’s research and proposals, presentations from local experts and other students exploring climate change mitigation, and a group dialogue. Fifty-six community members attended the session, which addressed topics including biodiversity, ecosystem services, adaptive co-management, and the Green New Deal.

A website was created to document the course and student work, and it also provides a toolkit of the materials produced for the event to support others hosting dialogues in their own communities.

Participating students
Yaoyao Chen, Qiuchen Gao, Yanlong Gao, Danni Hu, Kathryn Karl, Shaoxuan Liu, Rachel Reinhard, Lingyue Wang, Zimeng Wang, and Bixiao Yuan

Maggie Chung

Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative

Special Thanks
Fair Shares Combined Community Supported Agriculture (CCSA)
Office of Technology Management

Additional Support

CityStudioSTL Course Grant