Specialization in Urban Ecology


This specialization applies the concepts of traditional ecology to urban ecosystems and seeks to understand how they compare to undeveloped environments.  Most of the world’s inhabitants live in cities, and that proportion is growing daily.  Thus, urban ecosystems are the ones people interact with directly most of the time.  Urban ecosystems encompass all of the elements of rural areas, but include large human populations and their associated built environments.  As a result, urban ecology must integrate classical ecology with other fields, including engineering, architecture, anthropology, economics, and law.


Students are encouraged to take courses that provide fundamentals of interdisciplinary knowledge, build on these with specialization courses that more explicitly examine urban ecological issues, and finish with one or more capstone courses that synthesize this learning.  Depending on students’ interests, there are several sub-specialization paths within Urban Ecology.  These include (1) Urban Ecosystem Ecology, (2) Pollution, (3) Urban Coasts and Water Resources, (4) Spatial Analysis, (5) Urban Ecosystem Law, Economics, and Policy, and (6) Urban Ecological Design and Planning.  Students interested in Industrial Ecology are directed to the Specialization in Sustainable Urban and Industrial Systems.
These courses provide the student with broad knowledge of foundational biophysical and social sciences and methods on which to construct a more specialized understanding of urban ecosystems.  Students should take at least two subjects in each of these three areas.
Biophysical Sciences:
Social Sciences:
Methods and Other
More Advanced or Specific Courses: 
These courses have a significant focus on the ecological and social dynamics of urban ecosystems, or they represent opportunities for students to study at an advanced level within a course that can be tailored to allow students such a focus.
Urban Ecosystem Ecology
Urban Coasts and Water Resources
Spatial Analysis
Urban Ecosystem Law, Economics, and Policy
Urban Ecological Design and Planning
[NOTE: Elective seminars in the School of Architecture are open, but are limited to 12 students, so you are advised to contact the responsible faculty member as early as possible, preferably before the start of classes.  The three required courses may or may not be open in a given year depending on student enrollment and teacher discretion.]
Capstone Courses 
These subjects are taught at an advanced level and allow students to bring together the full range of skills they have learned in other courses.  They seek to synthesize the fullness of students’ experiences and produce projects at a truly professional level.
Faculty Coordinator: Gaboury Benoit
Specialization Faculty: Shimon Anisfeld, Mark Ashton, Marian Chertow, Amity Doolittle, Alexander Felson, Brad Gentry, Thomas Graedel, Reid Lifset, Karen Seto, Julie Zimmerman
Share this page: