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Critical Ecology: Defining Sociophysical Drivers of Ecological Change

Speaker: Dr. Suzanne Pierre, Director, Critical Ecology Lab, Osher Fellow, California Academy of Sciences, Visiting Researcher, UC Berkeley

Ecosystems ecology and biogeochemistry have traversed great disciplinary distances to arrive at the present understanding of the mechanisms underlying global change. Though a range of theoretical frameworks and advanced methods have been developed to investigate global change processes, the social dimensions of ecology have been limited in scope to urban to rural gradients, population health, and development patterns in contemporary contexts.

Despite cross-disciplinary consensus that social equality and justice issues are linked to environmental patterns, the ecological and biogeochemical consequences of social inequality have been neglected by the empirical and quantitative disciplines. Moreover, historical and contemporary oppressive social processes (e.g. slavery, colonial land seizure and development, racial and class-specific spatial patterns) have not been investigated as physical drivers of terrestrial and atmospheric chemistry.

In this talk, Pierre will interrogate common notions of the drivers of global ecological change, introduce the emerging concept of critical ecology, and offer examples of how scientists may nuance their research questions to more explicitly investigate basic ecological processes through a critical ecological lens.


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