GSC Events


Upcoming Events 

October 5-6, 2017
Register Here


Committee Meeting
Keck Center - Room 201
500 5th Street NW
Washington, DC
Open Agenda

Equity in Access and Health Effects of Exposure to Nature

October 5, 2017
1:00pm - Welcome and Introductions - Carol Harden

1:15pm - Nature and Health: Current Gaps and Future SolutionsPeter James, Harvard University

1:45pm - Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature: Highlights from a Systematic Review of the Evidence | Jason Gilliland, University of Western Ontario

2:15pm - Break

2:30pm - Social Justice and Urban Greening: The Case of Urban Tree Planting Programs in Massachusetts | Deborah Martin, Clark University

3:00pm - Representatives from federal agencies, nonprofits, and city peer-to-peer networks

4:00pm - Participant and Committee discussion

4:30pm - Adjourn afternoon session

October 5, 2017
6:00 PM ET
Register Here
 Gilbert F. White Lecture
Koshland Science Museum
525 E St NW
Washington, DC 20001
Dr. Jennifer Wolch
William W. Wurster Dean and Professor of City and Regional Planning
University of California, Berkeley

Urban Trifecta: Green Infrastructure, Public Health, and Social Justice
Parks and open space systems are urban green infrastructures that support public health. Proximity to parks stimulates physical activity, helping to protect residents from chronic health challenges, especially diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer. Spending time in natural open space is also critical to the emotional health of people throughout the life course and for child development, including mental, emotional, and cognition well-being. Research on unequal access to parks and open space reveals that in many cities, low-income residents and communities of color have disproportionately poor access to these environmental assets, intensifying health inequities that are already stark. Together, findings from public health and environmental justice research argue for city planning strategies that ensure adequate and fair access to parks and opportunities for physical activity and to natural open spaces where children can engage in unstructured play, explore their environs, and learn about and from nature. At the same time, efforts to build more environmentally sustainable and resilient cities call for natural or green infrastructure (such as bioswales, horizontal levees, and stormwater parks), along with restoration of riparian corridors or wetlands, enlarged urban forests, and additional green cover. If implemented, such green infrastructure could provide much-needed park and open space resources. Parks and green infrastructure strategies may also encourage local and migratory animals to come into the city, presenting expanded opportunities to interact with nature. However, natural, green infrastructure—whether efforts to increase access to parks or sustainability/resilience planning strategies—may also make neighborhoods more attractive, triggering gentrification, displacement, and other regressive impacts. Planners and policy makers need to grapple with this set of complex social, economic, and environmental issues. Cities must aggressively fight to protect housing affordability—through construction, preservation, novel forms of tenancy, and innovative financing strategies—while designing parks and green infrastructures in poor neighborhoods and communities of color that are ‘just green enough’ to protect public health, enhance quality of life, and protect vulnerable residents from sea level rise.

Speaker Biography:
Jennifer Wolch is William W. Wurster Dean and Professor of City & Regional Planning in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously director of the Center for Sustainable Cities at the University of Southern California (USC), she also served as Dean of Graduate Programs in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, Chair of the USC Department of Geography, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the USC School of Urban & Regional Planning. Her past research focused on homeless and poverty in American cities, geographies of human service delivery, state-nonprofit sector relations, and animal geographies. Dr. Wolch’s most recent research focuses on sustainable urbanism, parks, public health and environmental justice, and animals in design and planning. Dr. Wolch has published over 140 scholarly articles and book chapters. Her books (sole authored, co-authored, and co-edited) include Landscapes of Despair: From Deinstitutionalization to Homelessness (1987); The Power of Geography: How Territory Shapes Social Life (1989); The Shadow State: Government and Voluntary Sector in Transition (1990); Malign Neglect: Homelessness in an American City (1994); Animal Geographies: Place, Politics and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands (1998); and Up Against the Sprawl: Public Policy and the Making of Los Angeles (2004). She has also worked as a planning consultant and expert witness and has served on a variety of public and nonprofit boards. For her research, Dr. Wolch received an Association of American Geographers Distinguished Scholarship Award, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences Fellowship, and Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Conference and Study Center Fellowship, among other awards for excellence in planning practice.

Past Events

Webinar - "Urban Green Spaces and Health"

Dr. Matilda van den Bosch, University of British Columbia |  Thursday, September 14, 2017

Presentation | Video recording



Webinar - "Climate Risk Resilience in U.S. Cities and Towns: Current Processes and Emerging Trends"

Dr. William D. Solecki |  Thursday, May 25, 2017

Presentation | Video recording


GSC Presentation to the American Association of Geographers
April 8, 2017

A Century Of Wildland Fire Research: Contributions To Long-term Approaches For Wildland Fire Management - A Workshop
March 27, 2017
Workshop Information and Presentations | Videos

Webinar - "Using GIS to Make Urban Mobility More Sustainable"
Prof. Harvey J. Miller / March 1, 2:00-4:00pm EST
Link to recording | Presentation slides (PDF) | Webinar Information

2014 Gilbert F. White Lecture

December 4, 2014
National Academy of Sciences Building
2101 Constitution Ave NW
Washington DC
More Information >>

2013 Gilbert F. White Lecture
May 7, 2013
Keck Center of the National Academies
500 Fifth St. NW
Washington DC 20001

Spring 2013 Meeting of the Geographical Sciences Committee
May 7, 2013
The Keck Center
500 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC