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New Directions in EcoPlanning Lecture Series Established at Harvard Museum of Natural History

Kristina Hill to Present Inaugural Lecture on March 18, 2009          

Kristina Hill, Director of the Program in Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia will be the inaugural speaker in a new annual lecture series New Directions in EcoPlanning at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  

Dr. Hill’s lecture, “Designing the Urban Ark: Biodiversity and the Future of Cities" will take place on Wednesday, March 18th at 6:00 pm. in the museum’s Geological Lecture Hall  at 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History’s new lecture series will honor an individual who is making outstanding contributions to the integration of biology, conservation biology and ecology and the fields of land-use and environmental planning, architecture, and related sectors.  

New Directions in EcoPlanning is supported by a generous gift from Michael V. Dyett, Harvard Class of 1968, who received his Masters in Regional Planning from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1972, and his wife architect Heidi Richardson. Mr. Dyett is a principal of Dyett & Bhatia, urban and regional planners in San Francisco, and one of the country's leading experts in general plans, growth management, and transit-oriented land use planning.

“In the face of environmental challenges, integrating ecological principles is increasingly critical to sustainable planning in both urban and rural settings.” commented Elisabeth Werby, Executive Director of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. “We are so pleased that Michael Dyett and Heidi Richardson have the commitment and foresight to enable the museum to bring attention to those working at the forefront of these issues.”  

Dr. Hill’s lecture, Designing the Urban Ark, will explore the future relationship between human cities and the diversity of life. In the past, cities have generally caused a decrease in native species diversity while increasing the overall species richness of a region. Evidence from both growing cities in the Pacific Northwest and shrinking cities in the Great Lakes region suggests that future cities could support pre-urban regional biodiversity while also supporting healthy human populations. However, the need to adapt to climate change will alter the context for our relationships with non-human species. Dr. Hill’s lecture will present the case for future cities to support biodiversity based on human self-interest, actual development conditions, current urban plans for climate adaptation, and lessons learned elsewhere in the United States. 

Dr. Kristina Hill joined the University of Virginia faculty as an associate professor and director of the Program in Landscape Architecture in 2007. Previously, she was associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington, where her primary research interest was urban ecological design. Her book on the subject, Water, Ecology and the Design of Cities: Landscape Urbanism in the Pacific Northwest, will be published by the University of Washington Press later this year. Hill co-edited the book Ecology and Design: A Framework for Learning published by Island Press in 2002, and has authored a number of articles on the use of ecological theory in urban design strategies, the role of design in mediating the effects of urbanization on aquatic systems, and strategies for adapting American cities to climate change, particularly in the area of infrastructure investments and coastal ecosystems. Her article Design for Rising Sea Levels appeared in Harvard Design Magazine (winter 2008).

As one of few scholars with advanced training in both ecology and design, Hill has brought depth and rigor to the synthesis of these two disciplines. Hill holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in landscape architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design as well as a bachelor’s in Geology from Tufts University. She was a Fulbright Scholar in 1990 and was appointed a Fellow of the Urban Design Institute in 2003 In addition to her academic service, Hill has engaged in public service as a consultant for numerous public design projects in Seattle; Washington, D.C; Dallas, Texas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Brandenburg, Germany.

The New Directions in EcoPlanning lecture will be included as part of Harvard Museum of Natural History’s longstanding and successful public lecture series. These lectures, on a range of topics, including climate change, conservation, evolution, and the origin of life on earth, are attended by over 3,000 annually. Recent lecturers have included Edward O. Wilson, Jane Goodall, and Spencer Wells, as well as numerous members of the Harvard faculty.

Harvard Museum of Natural History
With a mission to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, the Harvard Museum of Natural History draws on the University’s collections and research to present a historic and interdisciplinary exploration of science and nature. More than 165,000 visitors annually make it the University’s most-visited museum. 

Open daily, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is located at 26 Oxford Street, a short  walk from the Harvard Square Red Line T station. The Museum is handicapped accessible. For more information, please call 617.495.3045 or visit the Plan your visit page.

For more information, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Director of Communications, at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, 617.496.0049.


The New Directions in EcoPlanning press release is available for download in pdf format.