Ashland University Environmental Lecture Series to Focus on 'The Ecology of Urban Living'

Ashland University Environmental Lecture Series to Focus on ‘The Ecology of Urban Living’

9/7/12 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s 21st Environmental Lecture Series features the theme of “The Ecology of Urban Living” and starts with a talk on Thursday, Sept. 20.  All lectures in the series are free and open to the public.

Seventy-nine percent of the U.S. population and 51 percent of the world’s population now live in urban areas. The realities of city living include high-density development, the importation of resources, export of wastes, and demand for the infrastructure needed to support quality of life.

Cities boast both environmental positives and negatives, but above all, cities may seem quite apart from the natural world. Is this really the case? Can nature thrive in the city? Can cities be sustainable systems? This series will include speakers who are urban ecology experts. Planned topics include urban agriculture, wildlife, water resources management, and how urban planning helps or harms beneficial natural functions.

The year’s series will begin on Sept. 20 with Dr. Anne Jefferson, assistant professor of geology at Kent State University, presenting a talk titled “The Science of Streams in the City.” This lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium.

A hydrologist studies the movement, distribution and quality of water on Earth. When land is developed for urban uses, there are a number of hydrological changes that typically occur. The conversion of large areas of land surface from vegetated soils to impervious pavements and rooftops tends to increase storm flows and may reduce groundwater recharge. Underground pipe networks can recharge or contaminate groundwater and streams. Some headwater streams may be completely buried or converted to culverts. Where streams remain, higher peak flows cause erosion in stream channels, and water quality and ecosystems may be substantially degraded relative to undeveloped waters.

The science of urban hydrology focuses on understanding how water flows in cities and how human activities can contribute to the maintenance or restoration of aquatic ecosystems in urbanized areas. Strategies like storm water management structures and stream restoration can be used to mitigate some urban impacts. The presentation will describe the hydrological changes that accompany urban development and discuss some areas of current research in urban hydrology.

For updates and further information on the series, see

Other lectures in this year’s series are also scheduled and include: 

  • On Oct. 11, Dr. Prawinder Grewal, professor of entomology at the Ohio State University’s Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center, will present a talk titled "Urban Agriculture." This will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium.
  • On Jan. 31, Terry Schwarz, director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, will speak on "Urban Obsolescence and the Adaptive Values of Cities."
  • On March 21, Dr. Stanley Gehrt, associate professor of environmental and natural resources for The Ohio State University, will also speak on coyote and other large wildlife in urban ecosystems. 

Current support for the lecture series is provided by a grant from the Lubrizol Foundation and additional support from Ashland University. Past series have been supported by Ashland University and grants from the GTE Foundation and the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.