On Tuesday, February 11, WRD Professor Christine Skolnik participated in “Ecological Imaginings,” an interdisciplinary panel discussion sponsored by DePaul’s Institute for Nature and Culture. In her talk, “Imagined Ecofutures,” Skolnik explored the persuasive, imaginative rhetoric of visual urban plans and their implications for ecological restoration.
Skolnik, who holds a PhD in English and Rhetoric from Penn State, recently completed an MA in Urban Sustainability and is a faculty advisor for the Institute for Nature and Culture. Her presentation was informed by her MA thesis research, and she began her work on this topic by exploring the psychology and neuroscience of imagining the future. In the talk, she compared two sets of visual renderings of recent urban plans. Skolnik theorized that effective plans engage humans at a basic level by allowing them to envision themselves in eco-friendly spaces and draw on past memories. She presented images of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, a visually stunning urban plan that persuasively emphasized the importance of green space. She also analyzed Chicago’s most recent, comprehensive regional plan, the CMAP GO TO 2040.
This analysis is not the first time that Skolnik has used her research interests to interact with the city of Chicago. She has also worked on the State of Illinois Sustainability Report. Locally at DePaul, she leads Explore Chicago classes with a focus on ecology and urban sustainability. Skolnik has introduced the topics the ecology and sustainability to the WRD department through undergrad and graduate classes in Environmental Writing.
More information on Skolnik’s work may be found at the Institute for Nature and Culture’s blog, Environmental Critique.