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About

Funding for the DePaul University Institute for Nature and Culture has been received from the Gutgsell Foundation.

Purpose

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. 

Mission

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.

Vision

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 wealth.

  • 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 environmentalism.

  • 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.

Accomplishments

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.​