Instructor: Eric Sanderson
The Mannahatta Project changed how New Yorkers see their city, literally and figuratively, juxtaposing the urban, culturally diverse landscape of Manhattan to the forested, ecologically diverse island of Mannahatta, as it existed just prior to European discovery 400 years. In this capstone seminar, NYU Environmental Studies advanced students will work with Dr. Eric Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society, to launch Mannahatta beyond the boundaries of Manhattan and encompass the rest of New York City: from the beaches of Brooklyn to the river valleys of the Bronx, from the seascape of Queens to the forested uplands of Staten Island. Students will learn how to synthesize materials across a broad sweep of disciplines (including geomorphology, landscape ecology, archaeology and conservation biology) within a geographically uniform, computational framework, based on geographic information system (GIS) analysis of historical and modern documents. These technical geographic operations will be placed in context by practical and theoretical considerations of how the past shapes the present, and how the choices we make about the environment, considered wholistically, create the future in New York City and elsewhere.
Specifically, this capstone will focus on the human ecology of the Lenape inhabitants of the New York City region four hundred years ago. Students will work to:
• map the distribution of archeological sites and historical references to Lenape settlement patterns in the outer boroughs of New York, building on the work of students from past capstones
• conduct scenario-based studies of Lenape shifting cultivation using a GIS model developed as part of the Mannahatta Project
• document the natural resource requirements and materials of the Lenape, such that they can conveyed in a “Muir web” representation.
Students will contrast the results of these studies with the settlement, disturbance ecology, and natural resource consumption of modern people in New York City, focusing on some of the same locations where the Lenape used to live. This comparative data will then be integrated into the Mannahatta2409.org website, about the future of New York City, to be launched in September 2013. From these activities, students can be expect to learn about basic of geographic information system analysis and spatial modeling, computer databases, parameterization of ecosystem and habitat models, and the planning and conduct of large scale scientific investigations.
Watch this capstone presentation on YouTube.