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Richard R. Shaker

Departments of Environmental Studies and Geography
Binghamton University

Urbanization and Landscape Change: Does Evolution Hold the Keys to Reaching Global Sustainability?

Monday, September 26, 2011
AA-G008, 5:00 PM

Abstract

The current integrity of the planet is being stressed beyond its biological capacity, and understanding human created landscapes is more important now than ever. A major landmark in human-planetary evolution was reached recently with a majority of people now living in cities; albeit, the rural-to-urban migration has been predicted to continue into the next century. Landscape change associated with exponential population growth poses major challenges, and possible solutions, to coupled human and natural systems. Many social and natural scientists have recently refocused their attention to develop new planning strategies for balancing human needs while maintaining biosphere capacity indefinitely. However, to date, there exist no ‘ideal’ instruments for achieving sustainability across spatial scales (e.g., global, regional, local). This seminar will be used to discuss global urbanization trends and various themes from evolutionary science. Through the Republic of Moldova case study, urbanization and landscape form will be linked to such topics as self-organization in biological systems, accelerated human adaptive evolution, and coevolution.

Keywords: Coevolution; Coupled human and natural systems; GIS; Globalization; Human-environment interactions; Interdisciplinary; Transdisciplinary; Scale; Spatial science; Self-organization, Social colonies, Sustainability

    Biography

    My main scientific investigation is in the realm of human-landscape co-evolution and global ecology. As Homo sapiens continues to stretch the Earth beyond its bio-capacity, it is integral to elucidate their patterns and processes in space and/or time. My past research has actively investigated the interaction between natural and social systems. Projects include the investigation of aquatic ecological stressors, investigation and implementation of sustainable urban/landscape design, spatial crime analysis and risk mapping, geomorphological processes and susceptibility mapping, and non-point pollution modeling. Due to the rapid advances in geospatial technology, I have worked remotely on domestic and international projects. Furthermore, I have been involved with or conducting field research in the Upper Mississippi and Great Lakes Watersheds, and Romania and the Republic of Moldova in Eastern Europe. Integrating Internet 2.0 technology and scientific theory from landscape sciences, macroecology, and evolutionary biology, my future research looks at real time sustainable development indicators for “movie mode” hypotheses testing.

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