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Sustainability Lunch Series: Playing, Learning and Planning Together

Event Type
Office of Sustainability
UH 2850
May 11, 2011   12:00 - 1:30 pm  
Moira Zellner

Moira Zellner will discuss her current research, "Playing, Learning and Planning Together: An Application of Participatory Agent-Based Modeling to Environmental Planning." 

Agent-based modeling (ABM) offers a powerful way to represent interactions because users learn to assess how different components of a complex system contribute to simulated effects (e.g., how different levels of residential density affect groundwater levels). These models can represent decisions and environmental dynamics in a way that invites non-expert users’ involvement in both developing the model and meaningfully interpreting model outputs, thus inspiring trust in the modeling process. Understanding how the rules produce the simulated outputs helps stakeholders learn how their choices can produce effects that extend beyond their individual areas of concern. Exposing them to shared vulnerabilities like water depletion helps motivate deliberate coordination to explore potential remedies to such threats. Thus, ABM can both improve the cognitive quality of planning deliberations around complex environmental problems, and improve the psychological and social sensitivity to common environmental goods.

Moira Zellner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy and a Research Assistant Professor in the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has extensive work experience in the US and in Argentina as a consultant on environmental issues for local and international environmental engineering firms, and as advisor to the undersecretary of Environment in the City of Buenos Aires. She also participated in interdisciplinary and international research projects to inform environmental and public health policies. Her current research involves assessing the environmental impacts of urbanization, and exploring how to enhance the sustainability and resilience of urban areas. The focus is on how specific policy and behavioral changes can effectively address complex environmental problems, in which decentralized decisions result in regional land-use and consumption patterns that negatively affect resource availability and quality. Her research also examines the applicability of complexity theory and complexity-based models to policy exploration and social learning.

The UIC Sustainability Lunch Series is designed to increase UIC staff, faculty and student engagement in activities that reduce negative environmental impacts both at home and on campus.  By providing information that relates to our lives on and off campus, we hope to demonstrate how and why stewardship of the environment matters, and that simple actions can scale up to big impacts. 

Sessions begin at Noon and are an hour in length, generally held on the second Wednesday on the east side and second Thursday on the west side of campus. Please feel free to bring a brown-bag lunch

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