Funding for the DePaul University Institute for Nature and Culture has been received from the Gutgsell Foundation.
The Institute for Nature and Culture has been created by DePaul
University to foster collaboration among the disciplines and among
researchers, conservation practitioners and the general public on behalf
of our environmental future.
The mission of the Institute is to develop a new environmentalism
capable of providing the means for negotiating a healthy, sustainable
relationship between humans and the rest of nature. Stepping back to
question and appraise environmental practice and thinking from new
directions, the Institute is undertaking an ambitious program of
research, education and public participation that will provide
leadership in the urgent task of setting environmentalism on a new
course during the critical decade just ahead.
Our vision is to be:
- a center for advanced study, experimentation and practice relevant to the relationship between humans and their environment.
- a widely available, respected source of information, ideas and
insights, and a forum for the exchange of ideas at the leading edge of
environmental thinking and practice.
What makes us different?
- An entrepreneurial style, seeing problems as opportunities,
seeking solutions outside the box, taking risks and fostering a vision
of the work of conservation, not as an expense but as a source of
- Our emphasis on collaborative, transdisciplinary work, recognizing
the role of practitioners and citizens as well as researchers in the
development and evaluation of ideas and practices, and fostering public
participation in every aspect of our work, including the posing of
questions and the testing and refining of ideas.
- Our focus on the city as the most challenging, but also the most
promising, context in which to work out the terms of our relationship
with nature - the Yellowstone Park and Kitty Hawk of a new
- A critcal perspective on environmental thinking and practice based
on our interdisciplinary commitments and our work in the fields of urban
ecology and ecological restoration. When we talk about a "new
environmentalism," what we have in mind is not merely expansion of the
environmental constituency, but a thorough, radical questioning of
environmentalism itself at the most basic and the most practical levels.
- A cost effective approach, recognizing the wealth of resources
available for the development and implementation of ideas about the
environment. We have deliberately conceived the Institute as
organizationally modest, working principally through partnerships and
collaborations to minimize organizational effort and expense.
In the first year of its existence the Institute and its staff have:
- sponsored a national colloquium to evaluate claims made for the ecological and social benefits of natural landscaping;
- collaborated with our partners to launch a program of retreats based on the experience of ecological restoration;
- created a travel award supporting the work of faculty and staff
members engaged in projects related to the mission of the Institute;
- initiated a program of public discussions leading up to the Nature and Culture Forum DePaul sponsors each year for Earth Week.