Bard Environmental Education Faculty Member Scott Kellogg Publishes Second Book
Scott Kellogg wears many hats. He works as a faculty member for Bard’s M.Ed. in Environmental Education program. He is the co-founder and educational director at the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center in Albany, NY. Kellogg is also active in local government and serves as an appointed member of Albany’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. And — he’s a published author.
In 2008, Kellogg published his first book “Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide.” In his first book, Kellogg provided a practical step-by-step guide for urban residents to develop more sustainable practices at home.
After publishing his first book, Kellogg wanted to go beyond the backyard and take a deeper look at the urban ecosystem. This idea led him to his second book, “Urban Ecological Justice: Strategies for Equitable Sustainability and Ecological Literacy in the City.”
The book breaks down into two parts. The first part focuses on weaving together theoretical concepts to ultimately shed light upon urban ecological alienation and the marginalization of the social pillar of sustainability. The second part focuses on the application and pedagogical engagement of the theory. In the second part, the chapters divide up into “the various spheres of the urban ecosystem.” These spheres include soil, water, composting, non-human life, air and climate.
But What Is Urban Ecological Alienation?
Kellogg defines urban ecological alienation as “the fact that many urban residents, particularly youth, are highly estranged, highly alienated, and highly separated from environments in which they live.”
According to Kellogg, this is due to a variety of factors. In his book, he traces this alienation back to “nature-society dualism as a whole.” This theory is the idea that the city is a human-created environment and is completely separate from nature. The other cause of urban ecological alienation, says Kellogg, is that “within ecology there's been this prevalent idea that if you want to study the environment, it's necessary to go outside of the city to experience pure nature or true nature – in that the urban environment is polluted, degraded, less interesting, and not really worthy of serious study. That's changed a lot recently within the field of urban ecology.”
With the advent of urban ecological justice, ecologists can now be found looking at the human, social and economic processes as part of the urban ecosystem. Why? “Because we define ecosystems as being community organisms living with, and interacting with the living and nonliving aspects of the environment, and by that definition cities most certainly are ecosystems – not necessarily healthy or high functioning ones, but once we identify them as such, we can ask the questions, how they can be improved,” says Kellogg.
Why the Social Pillar of Sustainability is Marginalized — And How to Fix It
Kellogg emphasizes that when asking how to improve urban ecosystems, we need to think not just about the economic and environmental factors, but about the social factors as well – something that has been neglected.
“Over the past couple decades there's really been a disproportionate emphasis put upon the economic and sort of enviro-technical aspects of sustainability and really a decentering of matters of justice and equity and fairness, race and class, the social pillar, so to say, of sustainability,” says Kellogg.
To challenge the neglect, Kellogg asks “how we can be proactive… how can we ensure that there's going to be equitable distribution of environmental amenities, the good things like parks, gardens, public transportation, renewable energy among all the cities populace?” The tricky part to the solution is equitable distribution of environmental amenities “without triggering a subsequent environmental ecological gentrification,” asserts Kellogg.
Based on Kellogg’s expert analysis, it’s necessary to simultaneously emphasize studying the urban ecosystem as an ecosystem and also the center of the social pillar of sustainability. This means urban ecologists must ask the tough questions around equitable distribution and access to environmental resources in order to create a sustainable future for all.