Plenary talks

Landscape Ecology in a Changing Climate: Science, Society and Action

(Monday 1st July, afternoon)

Harini Nagendra

Room: Aula Magna


Azim Premji University, India

In this talk, I look back at changes in the field of landscape ecology, many of which I have personally experienced as a landscape ecologist over the past twenty-five years. Landscape ecology has emerged as a leading area of study over the past decades, focused at the intersection of geography and ecology. This research area has witnessed impressive growth. Stimulated by advances in remote sensing technologies and computing capabilities, a detailed ecological understanding of pattern-to-process relationships has emerged over time. With time, it became clear that the study of landscape transformations requires a deep understanding of social, cultural and economic drivers of change. Understanding the role of biophysical and ecological processes is necessary, but by no means sufficient. Landscape ecology has creatively transformed itself in response to this challenge, blending insights from cultural ecology and human geography. In doing so, landscape ecology has changed in character, from a multi-disciplinarity research domain, to one that is fundamentally inter-disciplinary.

In today’s times, when climate change and urbanization are transforming the face of the earth in unprecedented ways, another change is required in the field. Landscape ecology is urgently needed to engage with, inform and stimulate action in diverse, creative, transdisciplinary ways. A major challenge for landscape ecologists is to engage with practice, education and action, and provide transformative research that can respond to these emerging and future needs. I draw on the changing landscape of academic literature, as well as my own work – based in India, but with collaborative research in South Asia, Latin America, Europe and the USA – to discuss changes in landscape ecology over a long time period, and outline some critical challenges for landscape ecologists in future decades.

Harini Nagendra bio sketch

Harini Nagendra is a Professor in Sustainability at Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India, where she anchors the Centre for Urban Sustainability in India. Over the past 20 years, she has been at the leading edge of research examining conservation in forests and cities from the perspective of both landscape ecology and social justice. For her interdisciplinary research and practice, she has received a number of awards including a 2009 Cozzarelli Prize from the US National Academy of Sciences, 2013 Elinor Ostrom Senior Scholar award, and 2017 Clarivate Web of Science award. Her publications include the books “Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future” (Oxford University Press, 2016) and “Cities and Canopies: The Tree Book of Indian Cities” (Penguin, 2019) as well as recent publications in Nature, Nature Sustainability, and Science. She writes regularly on public science issues in newspapers, blogs and other fora. Professor Nagendra engages with international science and policy through her current and past participation on the Future Earth Steering Committees of Diversitas, Global Land Project, and Programme for Ecosystem Change and Society


Managing Earth’s Landscapes Towards a Better Future

Erle Ellis

University of Maryland

(Monday 1st July, afternoon)

Room: Aula Magna


For millennia, human societies have been reshaping landscapes to sustain themselves. Now, anthropogenic landscapes cover more than three quarters of Earth’s land, wild habitats are shrinking, human populations continue to grow, the planet is heating up, and species are rapidly going extinct. Under such conditions, is it still possible to make enough space for nonhuman nature to thrive together with humanity over the long term? To move towards a better future for life on land we must first recognize that human societies gained the capacity to grow and develop over the long-term not by using up and destroying environments, but rather by evolving ever greater scales of social and material exchange supported by increasingly productive agroecosystems. Can this capacity to evolve economies of scale be leveraged to create a better future not only for humanity but also for nonhuman nature? The answer depends on all of us. The nature we sustain on this planet will be the nature we work to make space for together.

Erle Ellis bio sketch

Erle Ellis is Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he directs the Laboratory for Anthropogenic Landscape Ecology ( His research investigates the ecology of human landscapes at local to global scales to inform sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. His recent work examines long-term changes in Earth’s ecology produced by human societies (anthroecology; anthromes). Other projects include online tools for global synthesis of local knowledge (GLOBE) and inexpensive tools for mapping landscapes in 3D (Ecosynth). He is a member of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, a Fellow of the Global Land Programme and a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute. He teaches environmental science and landscape ecology at UMBC, and has taught ecology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. His first book, Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction was published by Oxford University Press in 2018.



Anthropocene Challenges to Urban systems, models, actors, landscapes; Metropolis to Megacity: a dialogue between teacher and scholar.

(Thursday 2nd July)

Room: Aula Magna


Grahame Shane bio (the “teacher”)

Grahame Shane studied at the Architectural Association, London (AA Dipl 1969), and at Cornell for an M.Arch (Urban Design 1972) and an Architectural and Urban History PhD (1978) with Professor Colin Rowe.

He taught at the AA in the 1970’s for Alvin Boyarsky and at Bennington College, before starting at Columbia in the 1980’s, in Urban Design since 1991.

He has lectured widely and published in Europe, USA and Asia.

He co-edited “Sensing the 21st Century City: Close-Up and Remote” (Architectural Design 2005) and is the author of Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modeling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory (2005) and Urban Design Since 1945; a Global Perspective (2011).


Ed Wall bio (the “scholar”)

Ed is Academic Leader Landscape at the University of Greenwich and Visiting Professor at Politecnico di Milano. In 2017 he was City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2017: Urban culture, public space and the future – Urban equity and the global agenda (TU Wien/SKuOR).He is currently an external examiner at the Architecture Association in London.

Ed completed his PhD in the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics (LSE) exploring relations between different ways that public spaces have been made and remade in London. Ed initially trained in landscape architecture in Manchester (MMU) and urban design, under Michael Sorkin, in New York (CCNY).

Ed has written widely, including for journals Urban (2013), Landscape: The Journal of the Landscape Institute (2011, 2012) and Topos (2011) and essays for Teaching Landscape (2018), Representing Landscapes: Analogue (2018), OASE 98(2017), Questo Metropolitan Architecture (2015), Revising Green Infrastructure: Concepts Between Design and Nature (2014), Educating Architects (2014) and Infrastructural Urbanism: Addressing the In-Between (2011). Ed has written several books, most recently he has co-edited, with Tim Waterman, Landscape and Agency (2017). In 2015 he founded, with Alex Malaescu, Testing-Ground: The Journal of Landscapes, Cities and Territories. Currently, Ed is guest editing a future landscape issue of Architectural Design (AD).



Round table discussion on the impacts of landscape ecology for societies today and in the future

(Thursday 4th July, morning)

Room: Aula Magna

 Cristine Fürst (chair and moderator)

Yazidhi Bamatuze (Secretary general IALE Africa), Henry Bulley (IALE Africa), Li Li (Iale International), Ramesh Krishnamurthy (India), An Thinh Nguyen (Vietnam), Hans Bruyninckx (Europe), Veerle van Eetvelde (Europe), Felix Kienast (Switzerland), Emilio Padoa-Schioppa (Italy), Pinar Pamukshu (Turkey), Luis Inostroza (Chile); Rob Scheller (North America), Janet Franklin (North America), Sima Fakheran (Iran), Ksenia Merekalova (Russia)


A voice outside landscape ecology – From genetics to artificial intelligence: the brilliant intuitions of Primo Levi on the destiny of Man

Gianfranco Pacchioni

University Milano-Bicocca

(Friday 5th July, morning)

Room: Aula Magna


Artificial intelligence, human genetics, brain-machine interface, tissue engineering, are just some of the several technologies that are profoundly modifying the relationship between Man and the surrounding environment at a speed never experienced before. Future scenarios are largely unpredictable, except that our species is rapidly evolving towards something completely different, with no parallel in the entire history of humanity. Perhaps Homo sapiens is coming to an end, and is going to be replaced by something that we do not know yet how to define. But there are people who had very keenly sensed this, and who tried to warn us: Primo Levi. In his fantastic novels, written more than half a century ago, the author of If This is a Man has clearly predicted processes and technologies that are gradually taking shape, and are becoming reality. With consequences for our society and environment that at the moment we can only try to imagine, not without some anxiety.


Gianfranco Pacchioni bio-sketch


Gianfranco Pacchioni received his PhD at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1984. He worked at the IBM Almaden Research Center, and at the Technical University of Munich. Since 2000 he is Full Professor at the University of Milano Bicocca where he is presently Vice Rector for Research and where he has been Director of the Department of Materials Science for several years. He has published more than 500 papers and given about 400 invited talks on the electronic structure of oxides and their surfaces and interfaces, defects in oxides, supported metal clusters, and catalysis. His work has received 23.000 citations, with an h-index of 80 (source: Web of Science). He received several awards and is Fellow of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (2014), the Academia Europaea (2012), and the European Academy of Sciences (2009).