Using the Prepositional Framework for Urban Environmental Education: Teaching and Learning About Ecology in, of, for, and with cities

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Book Chapter

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Urban systems arise from relationships among diverse environmental, social, and technological variables. Teaching and learning about them and their sustainability can be challenging: What should the focus be and how can lessons and courses be structured effectively? One approach is to adopt the urban ecology prepositional framework which refers to ecology in, of, for, and with cities (where cities means all urban systems). Ecology in the city refers to traditional ecological research about biodiversity and ecosystem processes in urbanized places. Ecology of cities focuses on holistic examinations of urban systems, including feedbacks among social and ecological variables, nutrient flows at larger scales, and ecosystem services. Ecology for cities integrates normative, applied perspectives to guide research needed for increasing human well-being and sustainability. Ecology with cities emphasizes collaboration, communication and education among diverse stakeholders to advance research and its application (e.g., citizen science, sustainable urban design). This chapter presents example topics and teaching activities from an undergraduate urban ecology course that help students develop integrated, interdisciplinary knowledge and skills about ecology in, of, for, and with cities. Hopefully these examples will inspire others to use the prepositional framework to support student achievement of diverse scientific, environmental, and sustainability learning outcomes.