Residential Research Group Fellowships

Spring 2014: “Urban Ecologies”

The University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) invites proposals to participate in a residential research group in the Spring 2014 quarter.

Who Can Apply: UC Faculty, Post-Docs, Graduate Students and non-UC faculty.
Level of Award: Replacement for faculty and stipend for non-faculty.
Funding Source: UCHRI
New Extended Deadline: December 16, 2012 (11:59 pm). Apply on FastApps.
Group residency quarter: Spring 2014
Topic: Urban Ecologies
 To be selected from applicants by the UCHRI Advisory Committee


Today, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities. The growth and sprawl of cities has been dramatic. Just 3 percent lived within urban administrative boundaries in 1800. The largest city at the time was London,  which registered a million people in the 1800 census. A century later, city dwellers had reach 14 percent, and 11 more cities had joined the million inhabitant club. By 1950, the number of cities with more than a million inhabitants had increased 7 fold, and the global urban population reached almost a third of the global total. In 2000,  the top 10 cities by population all exceeded 10 million, with Tokyo at the top and almost equal in size to the next two – Mexico City and New York.  In just another twelve years Bombay will have grown by almost a third, and Delhi will nearly have doubled in size.

Fueled by perceived access, opportunity, mobility, and a culture of experimentation and enterprise, this spiraling urban growth intensified the impacts on the environment, built structure, underlying infrastructure, and especially on the people brought into engagement with each other. The pace of life quickened dramatically, new technologies quickly emerged prompting renewed rounds of expansion and communication, industry and population increase along with further intensified impacts on the urban ecology and its inhabitants.

The sustainability of human life and its conditions of possibility and flourishing accordingly are inherently related to urban ecology. As sites of disproportionate concentrated global consumption, cities cast off intensified levels of waste and effluvia. Air and water quality, the heightened impacts of natural and humanly produced disasters,  the intensification of conflicts and their environmental effects all challenge the future of urban living, and of the planet’s prospects more generally.

Urban Ecologies is a sustained research focus that seeks to explore new conceptions of our “ecosystem” within these contexts of urban space. This interconnectednesss and interdependence between the material and imagined environment and human social, cultural, and economic structures demands that we think seriously about these challenges of urban sustainability and the relation to the ex- and extra-urban.

Urban Ecologies is intended as an in-house residence research group hosted by the University of California Humanities Research Institute for a quarter in Spring 2014.

We invite inquiries and applications from scholars committed to pursuing these issues collaboratively and in creative ways.

Possible topics addressed by this group might include but are not limited to:

  • The future of urban design and the relationship between aesthetics, technology, the life sciences, and the natural world; optimization of urban areas for sustainability.
  • Effects of limitless urban growth and sprawl, and the impact of the culture of consumption on urban spaces; use and distribution of natural resources; creation and disposal of waste; how alternative economies might be created.
  • The tendency for poorer populations to take the brunt of negative environmental outcomes; the “political economy of urban inequality”; environmental justice
  • The city as ecosystem, as well as the city within an ecosystem; dynamic movement in urban space.
  • Life and culture of the city; how people live in cities and what optimal design for functionality, happiness, and sustainability might be; sociology of personal interaction and relationships within the city; changing considerations of public and private (public vs. private transportation).
  • Rhetoric of political urban anti-environmentalism, denial of climate change and the impact on cities.
  • Relationship between urban design and public health, health of the environment in dynamic relationship with health of individual, health of the city, how one might conceptualize “health” of an urban space.
  • How environmental changes might impact human culture and social structures as well as our understanding of the new relationship between “human history and culture and the Earth’s natural history and material composition”.

Residential Research Groups

Residential research groups (RRGs) are at the heart of UCHRI’s activities, convening key scholars to work in collaboration on interdisciplinary topics of special significance. UCHRI promotes new scholarship in the humanities by fostering collaborative inquiry outside institutional and disciplinary structures. RRGs are in essence teams of researchers, often unknown to each other before residency, and assembled to work on a commonly defined research agenda. They are composed of a range of UC faculty, visiting scholars (including UC postdoctoral scholars), UC doctoral students, and non-UC faculty as resources allow.

RRGs are developed through a two-stage process. First, research topics for RRGs are determined by open competition or by UCHRI in consultation with its Advisory Board and UC leaders in the humanities. Through a competitive review process, RRG fellows are then selected based on their ability to contribute to the research agenda of the group. Collaboration may take many forms. In communicating across disciplines, there are challenges of language, terminology, and methodology for all RRGs. The organizing premise of the residential research program is that when those challenges are surmounted, breakthroughs in knowledge are possible.

Expected outcomes of an RRG include edited or co-edited volumes, key word texts, multimedia websites, significant extramural proposals, substantial curriculum plans, or other such significant projects arising from research pursued at UCHRI.

UCHRI’s facilities for participating scholars include private offices with e-mail/Internet access, seminar and conference rooms, a multi-media room, and a reference library. Furnished on campus apartments are provided free of charge to fellows by the Institute for use on an as-needed basis during their residencies, resources permitting.

Awards will be announced in March 2013.

How to Apply

Applications are accepted exclusively online via UCHRI’s FastApps system.

Required documents include:

•  Biographical abstract (100 words max.)

•  Proposal narrative (2000 words max.)

•  Curriculum vitae (2 pages max.)

For program related questions, please contact Suedine Nakano, Program Officer at

For technical assistance, contact

Please include the name of the program that you need assistance with.