View the Spring 2014 Capstone Presentations on our YouTube channel here, or subscribe to our account, NYU Environmental Studies, for more videos.
"Creating Incentives for Conservation Practice on Private Lands - The Adirondack Land Connectivity & Ecosystem Services Project (ALCES)"
Instructor: Jim Tolisano
Rural private landowners in the state of New York are faced with increasing pressures to develop or otherwise dispose of lands with very high ecological value. A very limited job market, combined with rising recurrent household costs and one of the highest property tax bases in the U.S., has forced many rural landowners to degrade or eliminate intact ecosystems through residential subdivisions and commercial developments. Recent research suggests that this trend is likely to increase unless new income sources are made accessible.
The Adirondack Lands Connectivity & Ecosystem Services Project (ALCES) responds directly to these challenges through a multi-phased effort that will provide tools and support to management agencies, civil society groups, and private landowners to increase the understanding and application of traditional and emerging ecosystem service markets, and policy and regulatory mechanisms that can further incentivize enhanced conservation practices on private lands. The ALCES project provides the technical inputs and community engagement required to demonstrate that biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation can advance on private lands through engagement with business and marketplace mechanisms.
This capstone will build from the lessons learned and data produced by 2011 and 2013 capstone classes, specifically concentrating on developing new data and analysis. Students will work closely with the WCS Global Initiatives and Adirondacks Program team members to support their work on this project.
"Social Resiliency in Coastal Cities"
Instructor: Maryam Hariri
Coastal cities, with their concentration of people, infrastructure, and economic activity, are facing unprecedented risks from climate change related natural disasters. With sea level rise, storms and extreme rainfall events projected to become more frequent and intense, vulnerability to flooding is increasing in neighborhoods both on the waterfront and inland. Cities are responding to these heightened threats with an array of new design guidelines and engineering solutions for building smarter, stronger and/or higher infrastructure and protection systems. Yet, these efforts to adapt or “climate-proof” tend to focus only on the short-term physical risks and solutions. Little consideration is given to the social vulnerability and resiliency of a city by policy and decision makers.
This capstone will highlight the deep relationship between the social and physical city in the context of climate hazard resiliency. Students will work to determine the role social infrastructure - cultural and community-driven components, such as, community organizations, neighborhood identity and cohesion, informal networks, collective imaginary, risk perception, or access to resources - plays in determining a city’s capacity to respond extreme weather disasters.
Themes and questions to be discussed:
• How are flood hazards and disaster probabilities, including those associated with climate change, measured and mapped
by different tiers of government (FEMA, State, and City)?
• What is the relationship between risk mapping and urban planning policies and development practices?
• How can the seemingly subtle and incremental risks of climate change be communicated with the urgency and scale that
encourages public engagement and action?
• How can public education about risk reduction and adaptation impact different communities and neighborhoods,
vulnerability and increasing a community’s capacity to recover?
"Welikia: The Historical and Contemporary Ecology of New York City"
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 ago. 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.
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.