Call for Geodesign/Geospatial Research Faculty: An Amazing Career Opportunity at NAU

Given our department’s initial efforts with geodesign education and research, we are spreading the word about an amazing opportunity for an accomplished researcher who may wish to relocate to Flagstaff, Arizona. Northern Arizona University is asking for nominations for a “$500K Candidate” who might fit well with “existing faculty research programs and/or centers”. We are pleased that our provost and dean have highlighted the areas of geodesign and/or geospatial sciences/GIS as a highly promising area from which to recruit. Please see the full Call for Nominations pasted here below (I am formatting as best as possible). If you or someone you know might be interested in exploring this opportunity further, please contact me (Thomas.paradis@nau.edu, 928-523-5853) for the actual Word document and for further information about NAU and our department/college.

Developing Research Capacity at Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University has been directed by the Arizona Board of Regents to increase research expenditures by 2020 to $43.6 million.  This expectation is intensified by the need for NAU to maintain its “High Research” Carnegie designation, which allows us to work with our sister universities in Arizona on relatively equal footing and which provides strong arguments for keeping research at the forefront of our strategic goals.

Last year, NAU successfully pursued candidates with a strong record of high research productivity. After reviewing our process from last year, President Cheng has approved a second recruiting process to bring additional senior researchers to NAU. Through this process, NAU is seeking research faculty who (a) consistently generate at least $500,000 annually in research expenditures, (b) can transfer their external funding to NAU if hired, and (c) can demonstrate the potential to continue external funding sufficient to generate at least $500,000 in annual research expenditures. The hiring package for successful candidates will include:

  1. Start-up funds ranging from $600,000 to $800,000, depending on the candidate and his/her prior record.
  2. Competitive salary based on prior salary and research record.
  3. Research lab space as needed from among existing space. The home unit is expected to contribute space.
  4. Funds to move labs and people (primarily post-docs, mostly self-supporting research faculty, and equipment).
  5. Expectation that a successful hire will come with tenure.

If a “$500K researcher” requires a major package (perhaps $800K to $1 million), we expect that this candidate will return a higher than minimum ongoing level of research funding. The successful candidate will also be ready to build NAU’s research capacity, increase current NAU faculty productivity, expand academic and research programmatic capabilities, bring a strong research network, allow for new large grant opportunities, and promote major interdisciplinary funding possibilities.

Areas of recruitment:

All departments, programs, and centers are eligible to nominate a “$500K” candidate. Preference will go to candidates who will fit in well with existing faculty research programs and/or centers and who address NAU strategic research priorities. Included in these priorities are departments/programs/ associated with PhD programs or which are planning to build future PhD programs.

Process:

  1. Faculty will identify, contact and nominate interested candidates.
  2. Initial review will be done by a small planning group consisting of senior administrative and academic personnel. Planning group will forward reviews of promising candidates to the President for permission to recruit.
  3. If President approves, the nominating Faculty and VPR will contact candidate and initiate discussion of interest and possible recruiting package needs. We will then offer to bring candidate to NAU for first-round recruiting. (We see candidate; candidate sees us.)
  4. If candidate is a good match with NAU, negotiate a package. Engage up to 3 or 4 candidates to the negotiations stage.

All contacts at the early stages will go through the Office of the Vice President for Research. Nominations/questions should be addressed to ovpr@nau.edu.

These hires are based on a special initiative approved by the President. Northern Arizona University strongly encourages the recruiting of women and minorities who meet the minimums set forth above. We also expect that initial interest inquiries and follow up recruiting conversations will conform with AA/EO expectations about appropriate types of questions to ask and personal topics that might be discussed.

An Unlikely Collaboration: Creating a Cross-disciplinary Undergraduate Course in Geodesign

Perhaps confirming that Geodesign holds far-reaching, interdisciplinary potential, Our Geographic Science & Community Planning faculty are now collaborating on an experimental undergraduate course with some unlikely colleagues – in this case representing the Visual Communication program within the NAU School of Communication. Following several months of initial collaborations, our two faculty teams are now in “test flight” mode with two spring, 2014 courses: VC 370 (Geodesign) and GSP 375W (Community & Global Analysis). Current enrollment for these courses is 12 and 22 respectively. Both are integrating Geodesign concepts and introductory elements of the Steinitz Framework for the first time. A local festival here in Flagstaff, Arizona is providing a central, organizing theme for both courses: namely, Dew Downtown Flagstaff, the third annual iteration of this snow-themed event. The event is replete with research topics to explore, followed by various redesign opportunities later in the semester. Because of the event’s numerous local, regional and global characteristics (corporate sponsors, traffic and transportation logistics, political economy of downtown redevelopment and promotion of the Arizona Snowbowl, to name just a few), we believe that an intentional Geodesign approach can provide students with an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration and team-based problem solving.

Our GSP and VC faculty meet in our Geodesign Studio to finalize course goals and logistics. Most of this gang will attend the Summit in January.

Our GSP and VC faculty meet in our Geodesign Studio to finalize course goals and logistics. Most of this gang will attend the Summit in January.

In short, both courses are taught separately with no cross-listing or co-convening for spring, 2014. Our goal is to begin with some manageable approaches for “mixing” the classes, in the form of at least three scheduled “Design” days later in the semester when integrated teams of students will meet within our respective studio classrooms. We are looking for some small successes rather than complex curricular overhauls within both programs. Our COM friends are using an existing topics-based course (VC 370) to test the Geodesign theme, while my GSP colleagues decided to integrate Geodesign and this collaborative venture into our existing, required, junior-level writing courses (GSP 375W). Perhaps illustrating the need to start small with such a cross-unit attempt, just the process of determining three mutually agreeable days for students and faculty to come together has been a challenge in itself, if always friendly.

For a better sense of how Geodesign is integrated into these courses, both sets of course learning outcomes/objectives are listed below:

GSP 375W Community & Global Analysis:

Following the completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Synthesize various local and external (global) factors that contribute to the complexity of community and environmental issues and problems in particular places.
  • Critically evaluate different sources of information for their level of objectivity or subjectivity, and identify the particular interests, biases and cultural contexts that contribute to those perspectives.
  • Explain the interrelationships of physical and human geography that contribute to the causes and implications of local, community, and environmental issues.
  • Apply a social science or natural/physical science approach to investigate specific place-based, local or regional issues through a variety of primary and secondary research methods.
  • Communicate research project results and recommendations within professionally-written reports geared to specific audiences.
  • Apply problem-solving skills within a geodesign framework to positively influence environmental and social change.

VC 370 Geodesign

At the conclusion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Apply the principles of visual communication to each problem.
  • Develop research skills as they pertain to wayfinding and environmental graphics.
  • Explore strategic symbology relating to universal design (ADA Accessible signage.
  • Increase awareness of other professionals and their role in Geodesign
  • Learn to collaborate in a group environment

Our Collaborative Process: The Longer Story (If you Dare)

Last summer I was contacted by faculty members from our NAU School of Communication, having learned of our new Geodesign Studio. Focused on their Visual Communication (VC) program, our new friends were curious to see if we could provide introductory instruction for their own students who were not yet savvy with spatial scale, wayfinding, and otherwise spatial thinking. Mark Manone and I exchanged visits with them, first within our studio, later returning the favor with a visit to their facilities. These initial exchanges led to a more ambitious idea for integrating two of our respective courses, with the central aim of encouraging students to discuss and solve problems with others outside their own disciplines.

It turns out that the VC folks were impressively ahead of us in planning to integrate Geodesign, while we floundered in GSP for some time during fall, 2013. While also moving through our 7-year Program Review, the potential challenges began to pile up: Would we create a temporary “399” course and heavily promote to attract students? We could use our Geospatial Science capstone course and provide a geodesign option for seniors. This option rose to the top of our list for some time. Our friends were already setting up a separate VC course and developing a geodesign title and description. Given their enrollment numbers, they saw no problem with attracting 10-20 students to this specialty offering. And, would we attempt such a collaboration for spring, 2014 or should we wait and plan more carefully for next fall? The fundamental challenge persisted: How to integrate a basic geodesign approach for our own majors, where to do so within the curriculum, how to attract enough students outside of their rather structured degree progression, and how to create a mutual schedule with VC to bring our students together? Let alone answering pedagogical questions about what should be designed, how it should be accomplished, and for whom.

The answer appeared magically one afternoon, in the form of an “ah-ha” moment. Let’s see if we can adapt our required GSP 375W course to integrate Geodesign components and learning outcomes. The course is currently titled Community and Global Analysis, with its primary focus on the junior-level writing requirement and undergraduate research and reporting approaches. It is required for all GSP majors, regardless of their emphasis in community planning or geospatial sciences. It comes logically (for most students) after our GSP 303 Community and Urban Design course, where they team up to analyze and redesign an auto-centric land parcel using SketchUp. With this solution we would have a captive audience, with no special recruiting necessary. I personally taught this course for two years, but now as Department Chair I was letting it go to our new geospatial science faculty member, Amanda Stan.

I met with Mark Manone and Dawn Hawley to “test drive” the idea and see if I was missing anything important that would counter the supposed list of benefits. They saw none. I then went to Amanda herself, to inquire if this would be something of interest. I wanted to assure our newest faculty member that she would have full mentoring support from me and other colleagues should she agree to dabble in Geodesign. This would be her first time teaching this course, and so we might as well team up and redesign it now.

Our next stop was a full GSP faculty meeting to weigh the pros and cons of the idea (early December). Ultimately the concept of redesigning GSP 375W passed muster, and we ended up with a 5-member mentoring team to support and guide Amanda with the revisions. The faculty decided not to submit a hurried proposal to the NAU Curriculum Committee for a course name change, but would consider one for next year. (A hypothetical cartoon came to my mind, with a wide-eyed Amanda driving a car with five “back seat” colleagues ordering commands from behind her… No, we would try to avoid the “too many cooks in the kitchen” problem, hopefully with some success.)

Our most recent meeting was with our full course redesign team and our two VC colleagues, in early January, 2014 (pictured above). This was messy, though I supplied some initial goals to assist our work. After two hours with studio white-board lists and designs of our own, we collectively agreed to a course topic and theme for student exploration. Both courses would center on research and field opportunities provided by our local San Francisco Peaks, the Snowbowl ski resort and snowmaking issues, and most specifically, the third annual Dew Downtown Festival on Feb 8-9. We would organize the course around the Dew, and encourage student working groups to conduct research on various aspects of the event. The topic would be highly popular with students in both courses as well, given their typical interest in the outdoors.

After the separate courses progressed on their own with a common Geodesign reading list, we would bring the VC and GSP students together at least three times, scheduled for Friday mornings in one of our studio rooms. Students would be required to present their respective findings from their research (or for VC, their visual design projects). The third segment of the course would involve an actual redesign (or Geodesign) project with the combined students (several teams) working to improve or solve various spatial and/or organizational issues they identified during the festival.

Six of us from VC and GSP will travel to the Geodesign Summit in January, 2014 to learn more about integrating Geodesign into our respective curricula, and to catch up on the latest technologies and approaches of this emerging field. Our time together will also provide for opportunistic discussions to flush out the “design” component of this collaborative Geodesign course attempt. We will look forward to providing a report on how it all went by May, 2014. See you on the flip side.

Call for Papers: Special Issue on Geodesign

A special issue of Landscape and Urban Planning (LAND) will focus on Geodesign: Changing the World, Changing Design. Guest editors are Frederick R. Steiner and Allan W. Shearer, School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin. For those who have not seen the Call by email, we are pasting the text here, originally provided by Frederick Steiner:

The purpose of the special issue of Landscape and Urban Planning (LAND) is to provide a basis for common understanding of what Geodesign is by asking what Geodesign does. We seek papers that examine how questions of environmental change have been posed in Geodesign and that demonstrate how the answers allow for, or demand, new models of design practice and education.

We welcome such investigations in the forms of review articles, research articles, case studies, and discussions about research needs and pedagogy. We anticipate submissions that draw upon the disciplines of geography, computer science, and the environmental sciences, as well as landscape architecture, community and regional planning, and architecture.

Abstract and manuscript submission

An abstract of 800 words or less, specifying title, author(s), affiliation and e-mail address, should be sent to Dr. Allan W. Shearer (ashearer@austin.utexas.edu) by 15 February 2014. Abstracts will be shortlisted by the editorial panel against the criteria of originality, methodological quality, and relevance. Authors of abstracts demonstrating clear scholarly merits will be invited to submit a full manuscript.

Invited manuscripts should be between 4,000–8,000 words and submitted through the LAND website by 15 June 2014. All papers submitted for this Special Issue will undergo the usual LAND peer review process. Details on article type and format are available from the LAND journal website at: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/landscape-and-urban-planning.

 

Journal of Urbanism Article on NAU Geodesign Curriculum Efforts

As a shamless plug, we are pleased to inform those interested that our article in the Journal of Urbanism has been published online this summer, titled Geodesign Meets Curriculum Design: Integrating Geodesign Approaches into Undergraduate Programs. The publisher, Taylor and Francis, allows up to 50 free downloads of the article, after which the link will take you the abstract. Please feel free to be one of the first 50 by clicking above. This will certainly not be the last word in curriculum design, but some might find it useful to see the direction in which we have been moving here at NAU, and to share ideas with others.

Geodesign Student Group makes a Splash in the Cloud

Founding members of the Geodesign Student Group at NAU

Founding members of the Geodesign Student Group at NAU

Posted by Tom Paradis, NAU.

Apparently the concepts of Geodesign are gaining the attention of students as well as faculty and employers. During fall, 2012 my colleagues and I were pleased to see some of our undergraduate students in geography and planning take the initiative to found a new student organization here at NAU (with no initial prompting from us!). They settled on the professional-sounding name of Geodesign Student Group, which has already hosted several activities that include local field trips and guest visits by local and regional planners. They have also been visiting classes to secure contact information from potential new recruits. If you were at the recent Geodesign Summit in January, you may have seen some of them attending your sessions. Perhaps they can provide inspiration for other students elsewhere in the future! If you would like to see what they’ve been up to, here are some materials that they have created, including a web site, blog, Facebook page, and a feature article on the NAU homepage a few weeks ago. Our goal is to help them become sustainable so that future students will build on their excellent efforts!

GSG members took the lead on our department BBQ.

GSG members took the lead on our department BBQ.

 

Planning for a Geodesign Studio: Trading Spaces

by Tom Paradis, NAU Geography, Planning & Recreation

The past several months have seen some encouraging developments here at NAU, with respect to our efforts to find a space suitable for collaborative learning and student design projects. I suppose the primary lesson emerging from our experiences is the potential significance of “seed money” and leverage, whereby one small success can lead to others. The remainder of this post will provide an overview of this “snowball” effect that we have experienced in the past few months in our effort to secure a space for a new geodesign studio.

The future NAU Geodesign Studio space, Room 117 SBS West. The Call Center is preparing to move out, pictured here, of the 24 x 34-foot room.

First, however, let’s take a look at the space. Our Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation landed what I call the “Cadillac” of rooms under consideration for a new studio, either within our building or nearby. In short, the room served as the former “ATT Lab” for the former College of Business before they moved into their new facility down the road seven years ago. The room is still labeled as such on the doorways.  Then, the NAU Student Call Center moved in, from where eager student volunteers called potential alums to assist with NAU development efforts. Although our department is not seeing its own new building any time soon, we are indirectly benefitting from the campus building boom that continues at a record pace. As I write this, the Call Center is moving into its new facility on north campus, leaving us a pretty ragged, but exciting room (see photo above). The University Space Committee has since turned the room over to our department, with our planned opening date (knock on wood) of January 14, 2012, when the spring semester begins. It was a bit of a strange and satisfying feeling in August when we began to place Room 117 (the Studio) into our course scheduling matrix, which means that it is becoming the official classroom space for our GSP 405 capstone course, Senior Professional Studio. More courses and projects will be scheduled for that space in the future. Making the project more real (and not just a little intimidating for this new chair) was the fun had by colleagues yesterday while choosing a carpet design from swatches provided by NAU facilities. The room desperately needs new carpet and other upgrades, which will happen care of the dean’s generosity and support for the project.

How did we acquire the space and support for upgrades and furniture? One success has led to another, the proverbial “snowball” effect. A bit of good timing hasn’t hurt, either. Long story short, the process began last spring with the submission of a written proposal to the NAU Parent Leadership Council, which provides mini-grants for curricular projects that will benefit the students beyond what is normally supported by academic units. I called our dean (since departed from NAU) and secured his verbal support for submitting the proposal for some new computer equipment, for a then-imaginary studio room. He told me that, if we secured the grant, he would help us find some space. 

Upon news of our success with obtaining the grant, it was time for the dean to make good on the promise. Let’s just say that it was not an easy process, and I sympathized with the dean who was already desperately looking for space for many other college needs. Having all but given up on options within our own building, he opened the door by suggesting a trade. Something akin to “Trading Spaces,” our department collaborated on a proposal to consolidate some office spaces that could be traded back to the college for use as new faculty offices. That second proposal, along with unanimous faculty support and some plans for room juggling, landed us the studio space by early summer.

Since that time, a lot of exciting planning and design work has ensued, providing fodder for future posts here. The latest success has been our Provost’s granting of funds to furnish the studio, the final piece of the equation for now. If we can get the carpet and walls renovated over the holidays as planned, we may just have students in there on January 14!

(Future posts will provide more information on the planning for the studio’s interior design, our valuable partnership with folks around campus to assist with inclusive and universal design strategies, and plans on how to manage the studio for classes and other projects. If you would like to share information about your own studio experiences that may apply to geodesign, please send them our way!)

Tom Paradis, John Baskett, and Mark Manone (left to right) present the studio progress at the annual Parent Leadership Council reception in September. John is a founding member of the Geodesign Student Group at NAU.

Creative Resilience: The Next Sustainability for Tourism?

by Alan A. Lew – this is a brief summary of a paper that I am working on – originally posted on my TG Tourism Place blog.
‘Sustainable development’ has really only been around as a popular conceptual framework since the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) issued its report to the United Nations in 1987 (Hall & Lew, 2009).  Also known as the Brundtland Report, its goal was to define a global agenda to deal with the deterioration of natural and social environments.
Today, 24 years later, sustainable development and sustainable tourism are widely accepted as appropriate philosophies upon which to base policy decisions and behavioral practice. Their wide acceptance is due, in part, to the flexibility used to interpret their meaning.  Unfortunately, that flexibility may have made both sustainable development and sustainable tourism meaningless.
Evidence for the failure of sustainable development is seen in many of the major news headlines of the past couple of years, including:
  1. Increasingly extreme climate events related to increasing atmospheric green house gasses (GHG).
  2. Increasing global population (reaching seven billion in 2011) putting more pressure on natural resources.
  3. Increasing extreme geologic events (earthquakes and tsunamis), in part due to growing populations in dangerous locations.
  4. Economic recession and financial crises, especially in the US, the Eurozone and Japan.
All of these changes, among others, are taking place despite widespread commitments to sustainable development across the globe.  It appears that sustainable development in general, and sustainable tourism as one of its forms, has failed to meet the demands of contemporary society, and are even being overwhelmed by them.
Resilience theory offers an alternative to the sustainable development paradigm. Community resilience is the ability of a place to maintain a normal level of service in the face of periodic or unpredictable external shocks or system failures.  One way to think of the difference is that sustainable development tries to prevent the shock event from occurring (by behaving more responsible toward the environment and society), whereas resilience planning focuses more on the response and recovering after the shock event.
From a human settlement of community perspective, three general approaches to resilience planning have been suggested (Davoudi 2012): Engineering, Ecological and Transformational.  Engineering resilience is the ability to return to a normal equilibrium after a disturbance and emphasizes the efficiency and predictability of bouncing back.
Ecological resilience is the ability to learn from an adverse event so as to be better prepared for future shocks, which may involve an alternative form of normalcy. Such learning includes institutional capacity building and understanding individual social capital opportunities and needs.  For example, the SARS epidemic decimated tourist arrivals in many Asian countries in 2003 because they were caught unprepared to address this type of catastrophe. Similar disease issues have arisen since that time, but policies and practices adopted since 2003 have successfully kept them mostly under control, protecting the tourism industry.  These practices include isolating travelers who are severely ill and regularly disinfecting elevators and other strategic locations in public places.
Engineering and ecological resilience represent the traditional goals of community resilience planning and both assume that there is a normal level of social equilibrium that can be achieved.  Most the new interest in climate change resilience has tends to focus on these traditional approaches. However, as community resilience planning has become more widely examined by social scientists and community planners, a third form of resilience has emerged.  It is define as the capacity of a community to invoke whole systems changes, reflecting different timelines and geographical scales, that evolve and create new adaptive models of response to changes in their natural and social environment (Planning Theory & Practice). I call this Creative resilience because resilient societies are those that are able to continuously re-create themselves to successfully adapt to an ever changing world.
Three basic tenets of Creative resilience are:
  1. Disturbances range from large, sudden shocks to gradual and consistent shifts, from the unpredictable to the expected, and from the undesired to those that are welcome.
  2. Communities and people build resilience by continuously responding to disturbances in creative and adaptive ways.
  3. Creative capacity building is occurs through effective leadership, individual social capital, and institutional social learning.
To me, a resilience approach makes a lot more sense in today’s world, with today’s challenges, than does a sustainability approach.  While much of sustainability also supports resiliency, resilience planning is more directly related to the immediate challenges of a community in a real and practical manner.  Creative resilience also offers a wider range of possible responses and visionary futures than does sustainability, which is more narrowly focused on conservation approaches.
For tourism, does this mean that we will replace green certifications (such as Green Globe) with resilient certifications, or at least incorporate resilience into the certification criteria?  I think that we may actually see this some day, though not in the near term as resilience is still an emerging approach.
For tourism destinations, however, the question arises as to what is the more important and effective policy for local and regional funding and political support: sustainability or resilience? Instead of sustainable tourism, should we be promoting resilient tourism? And what would resilient tourism look like?
My own fieldwork in Asia indicates that the answer to this last question is very much dependent on the context and needs of the tourism entities involved.  Figure 1 shows how four generalized types of tourism settings based on the degree of disturbance (from gradual shift to sudden shock) and the scale of tourism (from private entrepreneurs to shared public interests) that are involved.
Figure 1
2x2 chart
The Change Rate axis recognizes that people perceive and manage slow, but still significant, changes in the environment, culture and society than they do with sudden shocks to these systems.  In addition, the model recognizes that rates of change can be highly variable over time and at different social and geographic scales, which can require different modes of response.
Given the complexity of contemporary social challenges, a fully comprehensive approach to resilience planning is best approached from a creative resilience because it is the only approach that acknowledges and accepts the range of changes that a community faces. From the perspective of the tourism industry, this means:
  • 1-      All tourism destinations face a range of change pressures, including environmental (changing natural resources), social (changing cultural resources) and economic (changing economic conditions).
  • 2-      Some pressures for change are apparent and predictable, while others are opaque and unpredictable.
  • 3-      Pressures for change occur at a variety of time lines (speeds) — some are slow and gradual, while others require urgent responses.
  • 4-      Traditional sustainable tourism planning mostly addresses slow change issues. Engineering resilience planning mostly addresses major disruptions.
  • 5-      Pressures for change occur at a variety of geographic scales — some only impact an individual entrepreneur, while others impact an entire community or cultural group.
  • 6-      Lower geographic scale issues need to be incorporated into resilience planning that occurs at higher geographic scales.
  • 7-      Common change issues in tourism destinations include the modification, deterioration or complete loss of: (1) tourism facilities and services; (2) environmental and cultural tourism resources; (3) tourist markets; and (4) skilled employees
  • 8-      A slow change pressures may be transformed into a sudden shock event if it passes a tolerance threshold (or breaking point).
  • 9-      Comprehensive resilience planning should incorporate the full range of change pressures that a community faces, and encourage creative and flexible response.
  • 10-   The tourism industry needs to be included in community resilience planning.
Reference Cited
Davoudi, S. (2012) Resilience: A Bridging Concept of a Dead End? Planning Theory & Practice, Vol. 13, No. 2, 299–333, June 2012 – http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2012.677124
Hall, C.M. and Lew, A.A. (2009). Understanding and Managing Tourism Impacts: An Integrated Approach. London: Routledge.