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Cities and Environment Review Essay (Essay Sample)

Assignment 1: Review Essay Write a short 4 page essay that analyses and reviews three or more of the Required Readings for this course. State in your own words what the papers are about, what the main ideas are, what evidence is presented, and how these contribute to an understanding of city environments and urban environmental issues. It will be useful to pick readings that deal with a similar topic, so that you can point to the ways in which the papers agree or disagree. You may agree or disagree with the authors, but either way you should carefully explain your reasoning and any evidence to support your argument. A full bibliography of all sources cited is additional to the 4 pages of the paper. Submit in your Tutorial #3 FORMAT no title page; name, student number, TA/tutorial section in document header pages numbered (preferably in footer) double spaced standard 1" margins 12 pt font (Times New Roman, Garamond) OR 10 pt font (Arial, Century Gothic) stapled (no binders, paperclips, envelopes etc.) headings/sub-headings recommended (be creative!) 1000 words maximum (4 double spaced pages, excluding reference list) Course Text: Benton-Short, L. and Short, J. (2008). Cities and Nature Routledge, London/New York City Week 1 January 10, Introduction to course themes, approaches, expectations and assignments REQUIRED READINGS: Course Text Chapter 1 pp. 3-15 Week 2 January 17, Urban Environments in History Why is a historical perspective important? How have ideas about cities, nature, and their relationships changed over the last 200 years? What are the major characteristics and issues of urban form? REQUIRED READINGS: Course Text Chapter 2 pp. 16-40 Kostof, S. (1991). The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History. Boston, New York, Toronto, London, Little Brown & Co. “The City in History” pp. 29-41 Week 3 January 24, The Industrial City and Policy Responses What were four transformative aspects of the industrial revolution? In what ways was municipal infrastructure building a transformative change in industrial cities? What were the key early arguments for city planning? REQUIRED READINGS: Course Text Chapter 3 pp. 41-64 Hall, P. (2002). Cities of Tomorrow. Chapter 2 City of Dreadful Night pp. 13-47 Week 4 January 31, Urban Utopia / Urban Dystopia Why do cities figure so prominently in utopian and dystopian thinking? What is the role of urban places in contemporary thinking about sustainability, governance, health, and inequality? What is the value or point of utopian thinking? What are the functions of imaginaries of risk, disaster and unsustainability REQUIRED READINGS: Gold, J.R. ‘Modernity and Utopia' (2008) in Hall, T., Hubbard, P., and Short, J.R. eds. The Sage Companion to the City pp. 67-86 Week 5 February 7, Contemporary Urban Challenges & Dynamics How are urban environmental issues framed today? What major issues, challenges, and questions confront the global urban system? How do these challenge our understanding of cities as places, as environments? REQUIRED READINGS: Course Text Chapter 4 pp. 65-96 Davis, M. (2004). Planet of slums. New Left Review Vol. 26 http://newleftreview(dot)org/A2496 Week 6 February 14, Changing Ideas of Urban Environments: Urban Ecology, Urban Political Ecology, Global Urban Systems, Power In what major ways is urban political ecology different from urban ecology? What insights are achieved by a conception of cities as a global ‘space of flows'? How is power inscribed into the urban landscape? REQUIRED READINGS: Course Text Chapter 7 Kong, L. ‘Power and Prestige' (2008) in Hall, T., Hubbard, P., and Short, J.R. eds. The Sage Companion to the City pp. 13-27 source..
Student name Student number Tutor`s name Subject name Subject number Date CITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT CITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT Introduction Since time immemorial, the concept of an urban center has always been thought of as an entity that exists completely separated from the natural world. The reason for this could be perhaps the artificial aspect with which we view the city. It is known for a fact that cities are built from scratch by human hands. Often it has been difficult to associate artificial items with nature. As humans, we are consciously trying to separate the artificial from the natural (Benton 2008). A good example is the "organic foods vs. genetically modified organisms (GMO) debate;. Some schools of thought often argue that the act of human intervention automatically disqualifies the affected organisms from being termed as ‘natural`. A similar argument is brewing between today`s urban developers and ecologists. Whereas the former often undertake massive projects that transform natural landscapes into ‘concrete jungles`, the latter believe that these cities should still be viewed as ecosystems. However, to date, rather than having an authoritative conclusion to the matter, divergent views have emerged regarding the interrelation between Cities and the natural environment. The question that then begs in people`s minds is, "If these cities are so artificial, why then do we call it a ‘natural disaster` when people die of heat-wave, landslides, flooding or even earthquakes?" If indeed cities are not natural, wouldn`t it be wise to blame these disasters on human error instead of the politically correct term of ‘an act of God?` The fact of the matter is that all cities, no matter how ultra-modern or futuristic they are in terms of design, still remain at the mercy of Mother Nature. Cities as entities of nature The first way in which cities fit into nature is the fact that they are hosted in a natural environment. Urban theorists have come to admit to the fact that cities do not exist in a vacuum. The very environment that hosts them is natural and this means that the city is always in contacts with almost all elements of nature. A good analogy to this fact is placing a piece of sponge in water. Given a few seconds it will soak up and become wet. When cities are constructed or while they grow, the main raw materials are concrete and steel. However those alone are barely sufficient to transform a landscape into a city. Buildings will have to stand on the ground which is provided by nature. That means the building s will be subject to the rules of gravity, another permanent aspect of nature. The dwelling places being constructed will be hosting people as well as a host of both welcome and unwelcome guests in the form of cuddly birds and vermin such as rats. Perhaps trees too will be part of this landscape. The living things mentioned will all be breathing air, consuming water and food. Industries and households will be using up fuel and emitting gases and heat to the atmosphere. If looked at from such a perspective, it quickly becomes obvious that this city is more than an urban system. It is also an ecosystem that exhibits all aspects of biodiversity. (Benton, 2008) Such a relationship with nature is many a time beneficial. For the better part, Mother Nature plays the role of a prudent host who caters to her guest`s...
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