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GEOG 311

Urban Environments

GEOG 311 - Urban Environments

by Andreas Christen and Alec Blair - 'Urban Environments' is a course on the impact of urban development on the natural environment and vice versa. It introduces the study of the ecology and metabolism of cities, and their relevance for more sustainable urban design. The course will emphasize, and teach skills towards achieving, the integration of concepts from the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and engineering. Study of sustainable and green urban design, using global and local case studies.


 Lectures and Exams
Date Topic Instr.
03-Jan-17 1 Course Overview, Objectives and Introduction. AB/AC
Theme 1 - Urban Systems  
05-Jan-17 2 Urban Ecology. AC
10-Jan-17 3 The Urban Metabolism (Class activity). AC
Theme 2 - Nature and Society  
12-Jan-17 4 The Interpretation of 'Urban Nature'. AB
17-Jan-17 5 Role of Nature in Urban Planning. AB
Theme 3 - The Urban Biosphere  
19-Jan-17 6 Urban Vegetation and Wildlife. AC
24-Jan-17 7 Urban Bogs
followed by self-guided field trip to Camosun Bog.
26-Jan-17 8 Urban Environmental History. AB
31-Jan-17 9 Urban Forests (Guest Lecture by Adam Finlayson, Vancouver Park Board). AB
Theme 4 - The Urban Lithos- and Pedosphere  
02-Feb-17 10 Urban Subsurface, Land-Conversion, and Soils.
Deadline for A1 (Camosun Bog write-up)
Theme 5 - The Urban Hydrosphere  
07-Feb-17 12 Introduction to Urban Hydrology. AC
09-Feb-17 13 Urban Rivers and Streams. AC
14-Feb-17 11 Urban Agriculture (Field Trip)
Rescheduled due to winter weather - Based on your Group meet at 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm at UBC Farm Gate.
16-Feb-17 Midterm Exam (FAQ)  
  Midterm Break  
Theme 6 - The Urban Atmosphere  
28-Feb-17 14 Introduction to Urban Climatology.
Deadline for A2 (Urban agriculture write-up)
02-Mar-17 15 The Urban Heat Island. AC
Theme 7 - Urban Pollution  
07-Mar-17 16 Urban Soil, Water and Air Pollution. AC
09-Mar-17 17 Pollution, Human and Population Health in cities. AC
Theme 8 - Cities and Climate Change  
14-Mar-17 18 The Role of Cities in Global Climate Change. AC
16-Mar-17 19 Cities in Changing Climates - Vulnerability and Adaptation.
18-Mar-17: Deadline for A3 (Urban Streams)
Theme 9 - Planning and Designing 'Sustainable, Resilient' Cities  
21-Mar-17 20 Transforming Urban Transportation. AB
23-Mar-17 21 Planning Green Infrastructure (Guest Lecture by Prof. Daniel Roehr).
Deadline for A4 - Part A (Data submission)
28-Mar-17 22 Sustainable Design for Cities. AB
Theme 10 - Our Urban Future: Case study  
30-Mar-17 23 Environmental design and planning
(class activity).
04-Apr-17 24 Environmental design and planning
(Class activity).
06-Apr-17 25 Course Synthesis and Review
Deadline for A4 - Part B (write-up)
Final Examination  

The Vancouver Model - 'Restoration' of the False Creek seawall (Photo: Christen)

Course Information


Term 2 2016/17

Tue / Thu 14:00 to 15:20
Geography Room 200

Course prerequisites

You must be in year 3 or higher to enrol in this course.

Course evaluation

Marks for the course will be allocated as follows:

Midterm exam (16-Feb-17, 25%)
Final exam (Exam Period, 30%)
Class activities / participation (5%)
A1 - Camosun Bog field trip (10%)
A2 - Urban agriculture field trip (10%)
A3 - Urban stream photo essay (10%)
A4 - Noise pollution mapping (10%)

Exams and Rules

Here are rules on exams and assignments, including rules for late submission.


Andreas Christen (AC)
Associate Professor
Department of Geography
252 - 1984 West Mall andreas.christen@ubc.ca

Weekly office hour
Thursdays, 10:00 - 10:50 (Jan 5 to Apr 6, 2017, Rm GEOG 252)

Alec Blair (AB)
Sessional Instructor
Department of Geography
144 - 1984 West Mall

Weekly office hour
Tuesdays, 16:00 - 17:00 (Jan 3 to Apr 4, 2017, Rm GEOG 144)

Teaching Assistant

Maria Elgueta (ME)
Department of Geography
1984 West Mall


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Latest changes : January 10, 2017.