The Yi-Fu Lecture Series features a wide variety of U.S. and international guest lecturers from all geographic disciplines. Lecturers at these Friday seminars also often speak at brown-bag lunches, one-on-one student sessions, and breakfast meetings with student interest groups as part of their visit. Doctoral students are invited to present their final research. The lecture series was initiated by Dr. Tuan (pictured at left) and receives enthusiastic support as a department and campus tradition.
All lectures are presented on Friday at 3:30pm in Science Hall - Rm 180 unless otherwise noted. Alumni, friends and the public are always invited to attend.
Spring 2010 Lectures
January 29 - Biodiversity dynamics during the Late Quaternary
Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate; University of Copenhagen, Denmark
During the last 50,000 years 65% of the megafauna genera have gone extinct, but there are significant differences in the extinction rates among continents. Other species did not go extinct but suffered changes in their population structure and sizes. The causes behind Late Quaternay biodiversity dynamics are still an unresolved puzzle (Koch and Barnosky 2006). Since the end of the XIX century, researchers still debate the relative importance of climate/environmental change and human impacts in Late Quaternary Extinctions, LQE, without reaching a consensus. Unfortunately, the debate about LQE has generally suffered from the search for a silver bulletto explain the extinctions, although there some combined hypotheses. Whatever the causes of the global LQE, testing hypotheses about LQE requiresdeveloping stringent models at large scales and comparing the predictions of these models against the fossil record and derived aDNA data. Here I offer a review on some novel research venues that would offer novel and deeper insights in Late Quaternary biodiversity dynamics and in current biodiversity patterns.
February 2 - Communities, climate change and development: can the international climate regime deliver mitigation and adaptation that benefit the poor?
Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University and Institute for Environment and Society, University of Arizona
Climate change poses considerable risks to vulnerable people and places. International organisations, national governments, and local and non state actors are mobilizing and negotiating to respond to climate change, both in terms of reducing emissions and adapting to environmental changes that are already occurring. This lecture asks how the response to climate change might reach the poor, especially through emission reduction programmes such as carbon offsets, forest protection and the mainstreaming of adaptation into development policy and identifies some of the gaps in scholarship that are needed to make informed decisions.. There are tremendous challenges for the new US administration to internationalize its response to climate change and for the international community to craft an agreement in Copenhagen this year that is just and effective.
Brown bag talk: "Geographic Perspectives related to the Americas Climate Choices Committee"
11:00 am, 350 Science Hall
This brown bag will be an informal discussion related to the role of geographic research/input into the Americas Climate Choices Committee. Dr. Liverman is on the committee, and will be advising the Obama administration on related issues. This should be an interesting opportunity to learn more about this, and discuss issues with Dr. Liverman in an informal setting.
See for more information: www.americasclimatechoices.org
February 5 - Territorial Resources and Trajectories of Innovation in Provence, France
Universite de Provence
During the last decade, new researches in Europe have focused on the role of "territorial resources" as a vector of local and sustainable development (Camagni, Maillat, Matteaccioli, 2004; Gumuchian, Pecqueur, 2007). These "territorial resources" have been exploited by an innovative 'milieu' that plays a key role in coordinating this process. Whether they are natural or cultural, they are often embedded in the physical heritage of a place and are ingrained in its history. Their revival generally occurs over a long term period, comprising of different steps that lead us to question the role of history in territorial development and in innovation. By studying the competitive cluster of perfumes, aromas, flavors and fragrances in Provence (France), with companies such as L'Occitane en Provence, we will explore these new trajectories of innovation. Then we will examine a model that analyses under what conditions a resource can be 'revealed' and transformed in a Local Productive System.
February 12 - Well adapted but still extinct: lessons in human ecodynamics from the Viking settlement of the North Atlantic
University of Edinburgh, Geography
In Greenland we have the apparent paradox of more than four centuries of Norse sustainable practice and successful adaptation to climate change coupled with ultimate failure. In Iceland and the Faroe Islands the Norse settlement endured, but in the case of Iceland long-term settlement success was associated with extensive landscape degradation. We propose that the choices made in Norse Greenland to develop their farming system with a rising level of connection and intensification of marine resource utilization could have created an elegant solution to global changes that increased the short-term effectiveness of adaptation and minimized landscape impacts, but at a cost of reduced resilience in the face of unexpected variation. In effect, their concentration on marine mammals for subsistence and a highly integrated communal approach to both subsistence and economic activity (the harvesting and processing of prestige goods, particularly ivory) was effective in the short term, could be refined to cope with a degree of change but ultimately proved to lack resilience; results that contrast with developments in Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
February 19 - The World was Never Flat: Early Global Encounters and the Messiness of Empire
Thomas Friedman's 2005 book The World is Flat was meant partly as a wake-up call to those in the United States who direct its corporate boardrooms and govern its political/economic state, a warning that globalization has brought about a level economic "playing field" in which the United States might be losing the game. As rhetoric the title certainly works well to raise fears about North America's future economic role. It also works in concretizing a popular view of globalization, a view that obscures its uneven, discordant, and decidedly un-flat processes and practices. In this paper I help deconstruct this view by literally fleshing out the everyday ways through which United States expanded economically in its early (1890-1927) global empire. Based on archival work in Argentina, Russia, Scotland, and the United States, I provide an historical look at encounters between North American business men and women and their foreign customers, students and workers. Focusing on the diverse practices and personal encounters that were critical to the early global efforts of select United States-based corporations, I expose the uneven, contested and messy ways that economic expansion works. By analyzing early global encounters when the economic dominance of the United States was just becoming apparent I am able to highlight the sheer complexity and truly relational nature of United States' expansion in the early 20th century.
February 26 - Creating Natural Earth
US National Park Service
Natural Earth is an integrated collection of raster and vector data for making small-scale maps. Its intended users are practicing mapmakers, which makes it unique among geospatial datasets. I will discuss the various versions of Natural Earth—from land cover, to vector base maps, to cross-blended hypsometric tints—emphasizing the design and technical challenges of creating a world map dataset.
The idea of "cartographic realism" guided the development of Natural Earth, a design approach that is an outgrowth of my National Park Service mapping. When appropriate, and in moderation, I add natural environment effects to park maps, effects that people are familiar with and find pleasing—modulated terrain shadows, warm illumination, organic textures, and natural colors. The goal is to make a map that will attract and hold the reader’s attention as long as possible, to encourage visual exploration. Natural Earth applies these effects to small-scale maps, trying to translate the physical world’s beautiful chaos into comprehensible spatial information. Hal Shelton (USGS) and Tibor Toth (National Geographic), pioneers of cartographic realistic mapmaking during the late-manual era, influenced the development of Natural Earth.
March 5 - Seeing In/Through Suburbia: Surveillance, Privacy, and Community in Post World War II Buildings and Landscapes
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Art History
This talk examines a middle-class housing development built during the late 1940s and early 1950s—Crawford Heights in Madison, Wisconsin. Crawford Heights serves as a lens through which one can examine the critical role of domestic architecture and landscape design in everyday suburban life. Evidence in the built environment and statements of current and former homeowners show that the layout of Crawford Heights and the design of its dwellings increased opportunities for surveillance between residents, helping them balance competing desires for privacy and community. The paper builds on previous studies of postwar suburbia by revealing how occupants negotiated these competing desires through living in their houses and neighborhood in ways that countered prescriptive domestic discourse of the postwar period.
March 12 - Climate change, novel climates, and predicting species responses: Advancing theory and informing management
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for Climate Research; Climate, People, and the Environment Program
Understanding and predicting the impacts of future climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing ecologists and decision makers. However, making predictions about the impacts of climate change and communicating these impacts to decision makers and the public is problematic partly because of novel climates, i.e. future climates that have no contemporary analogs. Novel climates force modelers trying to predict ecological responses to climate change to incorporate conditions outside of the range of their calibration data while novel climates also compel decision makers to base decisions on conditions outside of their current frame of reference. I use the predicted distribution of cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum, in the Lake Tahoe Basin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to demonstrate how novel climates can affect predictions of future species distributions. I show that the interpretation of model predictions is sensitive to whether novel climates are explicitly accounted for in distribution modeling. I will then go over some recent work looking at alternative ways to analyze and communicate climate change in Wisconsin over the next century. I show that future climate in Wisconsin will be different from contemporary Wisconsin climate but that climate analogs from contemporary North America can help guide management by giving an explicit spatial reference to the biological, economic and social conditions that currently exist under future Wisconsin climate conditions.
April 23 - The Natures of the Beast: On The New Uses of the Honey Bee.
University of California Berkeley, Geography
This paper focuses on the rise of the honeybee as a tool and metaphor in the war on terror. At present, the largest source of funding for apiary research comes not from the USDA but from the Pentagon and the US military as part of efforts to remake entomology in an age of empire. This funding is being used in two central areas: first, to train a new generation of bees to make them sensitive to specific chemical traces—everything from plastic explosives, to the tritium used in nuclear weapons development, to land mine detection; second, in an explicit attempt to redesign modern battlefield techniques, the Pentagon has returned to the form and metaphor of the swarm to combat the unpredictability of the enemy in the Global War on Terror. In its investigations of the new uses of the honey bee, this paper explores how the long and intimate relationships between bees and humans is being remade to better address and serve current fears and battlefield strategies in the "war on terror."
April 30 - Global suburbanism: The challenge of 21st century urbanization
Urbanization is at the core of the growth and crisis of the global economy today. Yet, the crucial aspect of 21st century urban development is suburbanization which is defined as the combination of an increase in non-central city population and economic activity, as well as urban spatial expansion. It includes all manner of peripheral growth: from the wealthy gated communities of Southern California, to the high rise-dominated suburbs of Europe and Canada, the exploding outskirts of Indian and Chinese cities, and the slums and squatter settlements in Africa and Latin America. Suburbanism is broadly defined as the growing prevalence of qualitatively distinct ‘suburban ways of life’. Surprisingly, the universal character of suburbanism is, to date, unrecognized. Studying suburbs today will have to include analyzing recent forms of urbanization and emerging forms of urbanism across the world but one also needs to take into view the dilemmas of aging suburbanity. This presentation argues that the 21st century shapes up to be the century of the suburb and explores some of the prevalent governance, infrastructure and land use challenges of global suburbanism.