Trees in the City 4: Challenges and Opportunities for Interdisciplinary Research in Urban Forestry

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM (MDT)
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Organizers: Shawn Landry, Tenley Conway, Nancy Sonti
Chairs: Lara Roman


Conducting research that is truly interdisciplinary has long been challenging for geography and the environmental sciences, yet answering questions about human-dominated landscapes and socio-ecological systems requires perspectives from many areas of expertise. This panel discussion, as part of the Trees in the City sessions, is about interdisciplinarity in urban forestry. While urban forestry as a field of practice is inherently interdisciplinary, research about city trees is often done within disciplinary silos. For instance, two recently published studies about urban tree planting cite zero papers in common (Vogt 2018). This lack of cross-disciplinary pollination within the literature suggests that scholars may not be fully aware of, or interested in, literature beyond their own epistemological framings. Yet even when interdisciplinary collaborations are attempted, there are inherent challenges. The disciplinary traditions in which each scholar is rooted impact how questions are asked, the data sets considered, how meaning emerges from analysis, and even writing styles, creating potential tension points in collaborations. To move beyond these difficulties, we need trusting partnerships with clear communication and openness to divergent ways of understanding complex systems. Our panel will discuss the opportunities and challenges of interdisciplinary research, exploring the promises and pitfalls of epistemological pluralism. The panel features scholars with expertise in urban forest governance, landscape architecture, human geography, political ecology, and urban ecology. We will examine the characteristics of interdisciplinary projects that have flourished (or floundered), and ask what enables (or constrains) collaborative cross-disciplinary research that generates novel insights into urban forest patterns, processes, and functions.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Cecil Konijnendijk University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry 14
Panelist Harold Perkins Ohio University 14
Panelist Deborah Martin Clark University 14
Panelist Kirsten Schwarz Northern Kentucky University 14
Panelist Natalie Gulsrud Copenhagen University 14
Panelist Theodore Eisenman University of Massachusetts - Amherst 14
Panelist Nancy Sonti 14

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