New York City Urban Field Station

University Partnership

[image:] Thumbnail image of poster promoting Urban Natures WorkshopIn October 2012, the NYC Urban Field Station partnered with Rutgers University’s Department of Geography to co-host a Conference on “Urban Natures.”

University of Maryland Program for Society and the Environment creates a hub for social scientists and students who study all aspects of the society-environment relationship and will help the university to be a force in fostering greater understanding of human relations and the natural environment.

University Courses and Internships

Professor William Burch of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies states that “the greatest challenge to the future ecologists will be finding a sustained human-environment-human balance in urban ecosystems. That is, reduced consumption and new means of equitable sustained livelihoods in cities will be critical if we are to persist as a species.”  In 2004, faculty and students from Yale FES conducted a special seminar to explore how nature can help humans recover from chronic and acute traumatic events. Dr. Burch’s students investigated how to alleviate the chronic social and environmental fatigue in southwest Yonkers through the development of nature programs. Northern Research Station staff served as advisors on this project.


In August 2008, the NYC Urban Field Station (UFS) hosted advanced spatial analysis students from the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont and Jarlath O’Neil Dunne (Forest Service/UVM Spatial Analysis Lab)during a four-day site visit to New York City. The students met with leaders from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation , neighborhood stewardship groups, and other city and federal agencies. That fall, the students designed and developed several alternative methods to determine priorities for tree planting.  Selection of priority areas for planting took into account factors like the level (and potential health) of vegetation cover, land use, socioeconomic characteristics of residents, and proximity to other features, both natural and built. A Model Builder environment in ArcGIS was used to formalize the processes developed by the students so that these tools that can be re-used by the City in the future.  Visit the course website or download a copy of the course syllabus.

Organizing site visits and local conferences are key forms of collaboration between universities and the Urban Field Station.  In 2009 and 2010, undergraduate students from Ursinus College in courses directed by Patrick Hurley visited New York City for urban foraging field tours.  Hosted by NYC Urban Field Station staff and Forest Service Research Geographer Marla Emery, students visited two historic Olmsted parks and a community garden site. In a second visit, another group of Ursinus College students participated in a tour of green space in Brooklyn from Brooklyn Bridge Park to the Added Value urban farm. The students discussed stewardship and open space development with UFS staff.  In 2012, the Urban Field Station co-hosted the conference “Urban Natures” with the Rutgers University Department of Geography.  The event was organized by Lindsay Campbell and Richard Schroeder. After a day of talks, students participated in site visits to Freshkills landfill-to-park conversion project, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm.


The Urban Field Station has also participated in design studios and other courses focused on the urban landscape at local universities.Victoria Marshall’s “Nature in Design” studio at the Parsons The New School for Design explored how STEW-MAP (Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project) can offer new knowledge for design interventions, using the idea that nature is continuously produced by urban people through their claims to the urban environment. The “Patch Dynamics and the Production of Difference” urban design studio at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation  used cross-disciplinary methodologies focused on collaboration, improvisation and experimentation. Overseen by Brian McGrath (now with the New School) Students considered the relationship between urban design and ecological, social and economic dynamics within and beyond the New York City region. The “Field Ecology for Landscape Architecture - Urban Ecology” course at the City College of New York’s Program in Landscape Architecture introduced students to concepts of green infrastructure, community gardens, and forest restoration.  In collaboration with program director Denise Hoffman-Brandt and lecturer Amy Lerner, Urban Field Station staff offered guest lectures and helped coordinate field visits with local stewardship groups at urban open spaces across the city.