Geographer Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning at the Luskin School, has been named director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies, effective July 1. A specialist on tropical development in Latin America, especially Amazonia, she also holds joint appointments in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the department of geography at UCLA.
Hecht takes over leadership of the interdisciplinary research center, which serves UCLA faculty and students whose scholarship focuses on Brazil, from José Luiz Passos.
Hecht’s research focuses on the intersections of economies, cultures and land use — and the socio-environmental effects of these processes — an approach now widely known as political ecology, of which she is recognized as a founding thinker. Her work spans climate change, mitigation and the rethinking of longer-term strategies in light of globalization, intense migration and novel climate dynamics.
Her published books include “The Social Lives of Forests: Past, Present and Future of Woodland Resurgence” (Chicago, 2014; co-edited with Kathleen D. Morrison and Christine Padoch); “The Scramble for the Amazon and the ‘Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha’ ” (Chicago, 2013), which won the American Historical Association’s Best Book in Environmental History Award in 2015; and “Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon” (Chicago, 2011; co-authored with Alexander Cockburn).
In addition to journal articles and book chapters, Hecht has also written monographs published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the National Academy of Sciences, the World Resources Institute and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (Cali, Colombia).
She has won multiple academic awards, including the American Geographical Society’s David Livingstone Centenary Medal and the Carl Sauer Award, both for distinguished research on Latin America. She is a past member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and holds a professorial appointment at the Graduate Institute for Advanced Development Studies in Geneva.
—UCLA International Institute
In an opinion piece published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, leading tropical scholars, including Professor Susanna Hecht of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, warn that large-scale infrastructure projects in Latin America are undermining efforts to prevent climate change and biodiversity loss and enhance community land and resource rights. The researchers suggest alternative approaches to infrastructure, guided by an understanding of development that prioritizes human and environmental flourishing, equitable participation in decision-making, climate change mitigation, and a deepened relationship between science and public debate. The opinion is a response to the Group of 20’s emphasis on investment in large-scale infrastructure as a means of promoting economic growth. Governments are also promoting investment in infrastructure as a response to economic recession in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the authors. They outline how science can guide infrastructure planning to emphasize sustainability and respect for human rights.
Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, was recently awarded the prestigious David Livingstone Centenary Medal by the American Geographical Society. Hecht is a geographer who also holds appointments in UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and the UCLA Department of Geography. She was honored by the institution, established in 1851, for her nearly three decades of pioneering research focused on land use change in the tropics, primarily in the Amazon rain forest. “Dr. Hecht is widely recognized as a preeminent authority on forest transitions and sustainable agriculture,” according to an AGS press release. “She is one of the founding thinkers of the field of political ecology, which integrates humanities, policy and social justice in its approach to issues.” The organization also noted Hecht’s “sophisticated comprehension of deforestation” and how it interacts with migration, the ecosystem and the possibilities of alternative economies. Hecht, who is also professor of international history at the Graduate Institute of International and Developmental Studies in Geneva, is the author of a number of books on the Amazon. Her 2013 work, “The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha,” won the 2015 American Historical Association’s Best Book in Environmental History Award. “Susanna’s work on the Amazon exemplifies geography’s contributions to changing tropical conditions. She understands how economics, culture and land use operate in a society to reflect and change the environment,” said Deborah Popper, AGS vice president and chair of the Honors and Exploration Committee, which bestowed the award.
By Aaron Julian
Last December, Los Angeles and the greater Southern California area faced many major fire events, including the Skirball and Thomas fires, that caused tens of millions of dollars of damage to hundreds of thousands of acres and hundreds of buildings. Severe fire incidents such as these leave an impression on some people that all wildfires can be nothing but catastrophic.
But the rich history of benefits, losses, debates, policy initiatives and research demonstrate that wildfires are so much more than what meets the eye.
Wildfire was the topic of discussion on April 19, 2018, at UCLA Luskin. Fronting this event was Edward Struzik, a fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, and author of the book, “Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future.” Struzik detailed the history, science and approaches taken to control wildfires over the past couple of centuries. He also pressed for a hybrid approach to wildfires that moves us away from the longstanding policy of fire suppression toward fire management.
“Fire rejuvenates forests by removing disease-ridden plants and harmful insects from forest ecosystems, and yet fire continues to be demonized. … The big problem is that we have not been able to figure out how to live with fire,” Struzik said.
Wildfire incidents have become increasingly powerful and widespread, he said, and in turn have become increasingly difficult to contain. This amplifying issue can be attributed to factors such as global climate change, invasive trees and shrubs, arctic sea ice changes, and, especially, human behavior. As the human population increases, communities grow and spread. As more people spend more time in forests, fire risks increase dramatically.
“Human-started wildfires have accounted for 84 percent of total wildfires, and tripled the length of the fire season,” Struzik asserted. “The problem we can say is not fire, but people.”
He added that preparation is crucial in communities that are at risk of wildfire, so that people understand that we are unable to stop all fires. He argued for improved early warning processes and clearer evacuation protocols. Struzik also proposed doing more controlled burns and allowing remote wildfires to run their course to safely deplete the fuel for these fires and enhance forest ecosystems.
The future is projected to become increasingly dangerous if fire suppression remains dominant. As arctic sea ice continues to diminish, Santa Ana winds will become dryer. Struzik says that our best option is to adapt and embrace “good fire”; otherwise, the “bad and the ugly fires” will prevail.
Following the lecture, a panel of experts expanded on the subject matter.
Doug Bevington, director of the Environment Now Forest Program at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and moderator of the panel, said, “The central challenge we face is to find policies that simultaneously take climate change seriously and take the natural role of large wildfires seriously … while enabling Californians to safely coexist with wildfire as an inevitable part of life in our state.”
Chief Ralph Terrazas of the Los Angeles Fire Department detailed the hard work and strain that California fire departments have experienced in recent years, including last December when multiple fires raged at once. Terrazas emphasized the importance of larger policy reforms to reduce fire incidents and stretch fire combat resources when homes and lives are endangered.
“It is about changing the way we think when we live in these environments,” said Beth Burnham, a founder and current member of the North Topanga Safe Fire Council. Burnham argued that when people live in fire-risk areas like many parts of Southern California, they must make fire readiness and preparation a priority.
Alex Hall, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and director of the Center for Climate Science at UCLA, drew on his work in climate science in adding his perspective. “In California, there is this tremendous sensitivity of fire to climate and weather. Because climate and weather are changing, that means fire is also changing,” he said.
When the conversation was opened to the crowd, topics included technical inquiries from workers in water management as well as personal anecdotes about safety in communities that have previously been impacted by fire incidents. The panel reiterated the need to be prepared and have a plan for fire incidents, but attendees were also urged to work at the community level to promote change on a wider scale.
The event was organized by the Luskin Center for Innovation as part of the UCLA Luskin Innovator Series.
Click or swipe to view a gallery of photos from the event:
By Stan Paul
John Friedmann, internationally renowned pioneer in urban theory and planning and a central figure in the founding of what is today the Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, died Sunday in Vancouver, B.C., June 11, 2017, following a short illness. He was 91.
Friedmann, who was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1926, came to UCLA in 1969 at the invitation of Harvey S. Perloff, who had recently been appointed founding dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Perloff, an economist by trade and himself a pioneer and legendary figure in the field of planning, was Friedmann’s dissertation adviser at the University of Chicago. Perloff asked Friedmann to head a new program in urban planning at UCLA.
“Together they brought in a number of ‘big thinkers’ to be the core faculty of the emerging urban planning department, including Ed Soja, Dolores Hayden and Peter Marris,” said Michael Storper, a longtime friend and faculty member in urban planning. Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development at UCLA Luskin with appointments at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris and the London School of Economics, added that Friedmann and Perloff were among those who published and edited the early fundamental textbooks in the emerging field of regional planning.
“This is a momentous loss,” Storper said. “He brought a real global outlook and sensibility to UCLA.”
Other friends and faculty at UCLA Luskin expressed similar thoughts about Friedmann.
“I consider John Friedmann as the father of our urban planning department — a huge figure whose vision has guided our department’s structure, overall mission and social justice goals,” said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, associate dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and professor of urban planning. “Aside from being a brilliant scholar, John was an amazing human being.
“I know that I am not the only one who has benefited tremendously from his kindness, mentorship and generosity of spirit,” she said. “John lives in our thoughts and minds. John is UCLA Urban Planning.”
Martin Wachs, distinguished professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, agreed.
“While many people contributed to the evolution of urban planning at UCLA, John Friedmann is universally recognized as THE father of the department,” Wachs said. “He was a person of unbounded energy and unlimited curiosity.”
Friedmann, who earned his Ph.D. in 1955 in an interdisciplinary program of research and education in planning at the University of Chicago, served as department chair of the urban planning program for a total of 14 years during his tenure at UCLA. He retired from UCLA in 1996 and lived in Vancouver for many years.
His decades-long career included serving as a member of the U.S. occupation forces at the end of World War II, and his wide-ranging interests took him around the world. After his first 14 years in Vienna, he listed Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Venezuela, Chile, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada as stopping points along his journey as a scholar. During his long and life of learning and teaching, he helped establish and maintain an intellectual lineage and link to generations of world-class scholars in the field.
Vinit Mukhija, the current chair of the Department of Urban Planning, said his own dissertation adviser, Bish Sanyal, now at MIT, completed his dissertation under Friedmann’s guidance.
“I’ve felt a strong bond with UCLA Urban Planning because of this connection,” Mukhija said. “John’s ideas on social justice and planning have influenced me deeply and will continue to play a very important role in the training and education of planners at UCLA and around the globe.”
Friedmann also was the first distinguished lecturer of the Institute of Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. In May of 2016, Friedmann delivered a lecture titled, “The Ruse of Reason: Poverty and Personal Freedoms in the People’s Republic of China 1950-2015.”
In his biographical chapter in the recently published book, “Encounters in Planning Thought: 16 Autobiographical Essays from Thinkers in Spatial Planning” (Routledge, 2017), Friedmann writes, “I confess a weakness for Chinese philosophy.” The author of “China’s Urban Transition” (University of Minnesota Press, 2005) explained: “I believe this metaphysics has a great deal of explanatory power … I believe it to be useful also in the Western world where we are more accustomed to think in terms of either/or rather than both/and. It is particularly applicable in planning conflicts.”
At the May 2016 talk, Ananya Roy, director of the Institute on Inequality and Demoracy and professor of urban planning and social welfare at Luskin, introduced the prolific author as a “legend in urban planning.”
“For those of us who were trained at other urban planning programs, we were raised on the writings of John Friedmann,” Roy said. “His scholarship, for example, the analysis of world formation, remains foundational to the ways in which we think about cities and metropolitan regions around the world.”
Before the talk, Friedmann sat for a video interview and was asked about the evolution of urban planning at UCLA.
“The vision that I had was that planning was not just a profession,” he said. “We had to begin to theorize about planning, to start thinking, what is planning? What should we expect from this social science-based profession that isn’t simply urban design or land use planning, but goes far beyond that.”
When asked about the connection between planning theory and social justice, Friedmann said, “It’s all value-based, so we have to think very carefully about what sort of values we want to further in the world around us and the world in which we interact. The oldest one is social justice and the whole question of equality and inequality and how to have a more egalitarian society that is inclusive of all different modes of living.”
During his decades-long career, which includes Honorary Professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, Friedmann authored more than a dozen books, co-edited nearly a dozen more and wrote almost 200 other scholarly works, including articles and book chapters.
As one of the most highly cited researchers in the planning field — his citations number more than 50,000 — he is best known for his work on regional development planning, world city hypothesis, empowerment in planning and planning theory. His most recent book, “Insurgencies: Essays in Planning Theory” (Routledge, 2011), is a collection of his most influential writing over nearly four decades and is summarized as “Covering transactive planning, radical planning, the concept of “the good city,” civil society, rethinking poverty, and the diversity of planning cultures.”
Awards for his scholarship include the prestigious Distinguished Planning Educator Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and the same organization established the John Friedmann Book award in his honor in 2013. In 2006 he received the first UN-HABITAT Lecture Award organized through the Global Research Network on Human Settlements, and, is Honorary Foreign Advisor of the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Design. In 2008 he was the Harvey S. Perloff Visiting Professor in the UCLA Department of Urban Planning.
He also received honorary doctorates from the Catholic University of Chile, the University of Dortmund in Germany and York University, Ontario.
His personal interests, which included painting, music and poetry, “never flagged, as he saw these as essential to cultivating a sensibility of how things work together to create a whole out of the sum of parts, among which were statistics, economics, politics and history,” Storper said of his colleague.
Friedmann is survived by his wife of many years, Leonie Sandercock, who is a professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia; his daughter, Manuela Friedmann; and his brother, Martin Friedmann and family.
Full Statements and Tributes from his Colleagues and Friends
Friedmann’s influence and legacy also lives on through generations of scholars and students at UCLA a number of whom commented on his life, legacy and impact, not only on urban planning but on their person and professional lives.
Martin Wachs, distinguished professor emeritus of urban planning
“While many people contributed to the evolution of Urban Planning at UCLA John Friedmann is universally recognized as THE father of the department. Brought to UCLA by Dean Harvey Perloff in 1969, John served as Department Chair during the department’s most formative years and shaped it intellectually in many ways. He was a person of unbounded energy and unlimited curiosity.
“In the most important telephone call of my career, John invited me to consider moving to UCLA and when I did he was my mentor during my early years here. I was a civil engineer interested in transportation and he was a planning theorist interested in regions. He created opportunities for me to broaden my perspective while staying focused on my interests. Busy teaching, writing, and traveling, he always had time for leisurely but substantive conversations about planning and about pedagogy. Our department was his extended family and those who new and worked with him all feel that we have lost a close relative.”
Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning, associate dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and associate provost, Academic Planning, UCLA
“I consider John Friedmann as the father of our Urban Planning department, a huge figure whose vision has guided our department’s structure, overall mission, and social justice goals. [It’s been] twenty-one years after John “retired” from UCLA at the age of 70, and we are still holding our quarterly departmental Assemblies, our curriculum and admissions committees where faculty, staff, and students meet to decide all major departmental decisions — all legacies of John’s participatory planning process.
“John has not only shaped urban planning here at UCLA but has in many ways transformed and elevated the field nationally and internationally. His concepts, hypotheses and writings about the ‘global city,’ ‘planning in the public domain’ and ‘radical planning’ propelled the rather obscure field of urban planning forward and have been tremendously influential in the social sciences.
“But aside from being a brilliant scholar, John was an amazing human being. I know that I am not the only one who has benefited tremendously from his kindness, mentorship and generosity of spirit.
“John lives in our thoughts and minds. John is UCLA Urban Planning.”
Stephen Commins, lecturer in urban planning
“John was unique. He was my chair, exceptionally rigorous, fair and humorous all wrapped together. He pushed, prodded, provoked and challenged, and also supported me. John was the engine that built up the department when he was chair. He put in incredible hours as a chair, as an instructor, as a chair and mentor, and yet also managed to find time to produce a range of publications. When students would quote something from his earlier work, he might say that was his Marxist, or Buddhist, or Anarchist phase … that jest was really about John being heterodox, not willing to accept simplistic ‘left/right’ or ‘top/bottom’ dichotomies in planning theory or in how we were to explore the world. I treasured that.
“When I was Director for Policy and Planning at World Vision International (1990-96) after finishing my Ph.D., our Latin America VP was a Brazilian who was immersed in liberation theology (before John Paul II killed so much of it). Manfred wanted to meet John, as he was thrilled by John’s book on Empowerment. We arranged a meeting at the Faculty Center, which started off a bit stiff/formal until John started chatting in Portuguese (I couldn’t follow, of course), and that opening up with Manfred’s home language burst open the conversation, which then ranged across languages and ideas and themes for the next 90 minutes. Similarly, when I was managing programs dealing with the civil war in Bosnia, John and I had lunch — we had never discussed the emerging complexities of civil wars in Central America, let alone in the Balkans, but his insights into how political entrepreneurs used ‘culture’ for power were ones that I still use.”
Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development, UCLA Department of Urban Planning
Let me make sure that you understand the lineage of John Friedmann and his importance to the field of regional planning. The forerunner of our school, the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, was created under the auspices of its first dean, Harvey Perloff. Perloff was an economist who had worked under the famous “brain trust” of President Franklin Roosevelt, in the depths of the Great Depression. Roosevelt brought in a number of people from the University of Chicago, among whom were Perloff and Rexford Tugwell. Perloff was instrumental in creating the country’s most important policy in the area of regional development, the regional planning authorities such as the Tennessee Valley Authority. Friedmann was an acolyte of Perloff, so that Perloff brought John to UCLA shortly after he was invited to be founding dean of the GSAUP. Together, they brought in a number of “big thinkers” to be the core faculty of the emerging urban planning department, including Ed Soja, Dolores Hayden and Peter Marris.
Friedmann has to be understood in that context. He was part of the great mid-century bulge of Europeans and European-style thinkers who came into American universities in the wake of depression and war in Europe. With his Austrian roots, John combined a European style intellectualism and broad culture, with American pragmatism. Like all of those of his generation of Austrians, he was traumatized by what had happened in Europe and saw policy as a way to make the world better in order to avoid such outcomes. Chicago was a crucible of this mixing of pragmatism and European big theory and humanist culture. John was trained in regional economics, but was deeply cultured in classical music, poetry and continental philosophy.
Perloff and Friedmann, along with Bill Alonso of Harvard, published the early fundamental texts and edited books in the emerging field of regional planning. John was close to Walter Isard, who established the Regional Science Association and its associated journals (still important to the field), as well as having contacts with all the European big names who were working to rebuild Europe through its regions, as the U.S. was doing so in order to get out of the depression and then to spread the wealth after the war.
It was also the period of 20th century “economic development” theory and practice, meaning the rise of a field of academia and practice devoted to combating under-development, in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Friedmann worked with Nobel Prize winners such as Gunnar Myrdal, and the renowned economist Albert Hirschmann. Friedmann spent many years in South America working on growth pole policies. So he brought a real global outlook and sensibility to UCLA.
The culture of our department was like a global intellectual salon at the time, with big ideas and world class intellectual speakers coming through for the Thursday Evening Lectures that John was instrumental in designing into the department’s life.
Later, as he moved away from nuts-and-bolts regional planning, John’s background and culture in continental European philosophy infused his work. With a line of inspiration that went from Aristotle through Kant to Habermas and Bergson, he was interested in experience, in the life-space, which he contrasted to economic space, how planning interacted with notions of a good and creative and fulfilling way to live. His later work explored power, identity, domination, and experience, with these philosophical traditions brought to bear on these questions. He was always reluctant to endorse typically American technocratic approaches to urban problems, eschewing the narrowness of the American academy, all the while hewing to his pragmatist side. His interest in painting, music, and poetry never flagged, as he saw these as essential to cultivating a sensibility of how things work together to create a whole out of the sum of parts, among which were statistics, economics, politics, and history.
On John Friedmann and the Implications of Regional Planning
By Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning
In his later years John Friedmann was largely concerned with social movements as political processes as underpinnings to planning. This focus overlooks his earlier emphases in planning in understanding large scale river basin planning — the TVA, “from scratch” city construction, such as Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela, and his role in Latin American development politics, all of which were at earlier phases in his career but which informed his later ideas about transactive planning, and his general discomfort with bureaucratic planning as processes. Like most planners, he struggled with the idea and theory of planning, in many ways deriving his later ideas from Habermas, but also I would argue, to some degree from the failures of the transfer of planning models that actually seemed quite successful and, indeed, were practically text book cases of large scale river basin and territorial planning like the TVA — the Tennessee Valley Authority.
It is important to situate his early career in the intellectual ambience of the University of Chicago which had an outsized role in the intellectual underpinnings of the New Deal and post dust bowl recovery of the regions of Appalachia affected by the TVA. As a protégé of Harvey Perloff, he was exposed to the extraordinary influence that Chicago was to have on urban theory, especially through the idea of urban ecology ( not in the sense we use this term now as a socio-biotic domain) but rather as analogue to biotic systems with urban dynamics of succession ecological complexity and growth echoing as metaphor and reality the theories emerging from Chicago’s powerful biology department which was foundational in the development of ecological and succession theory.
Chicago biologists were deployed to help in landscape recovery of the degraded dust bowl lands (what we now call recuperation ecology), and for large scale land use planning in the Tennessee River basin. (The TVA embraces Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, parts of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia) This ecological interest was complemented by the intense concern of new dealers like Tugwell and Henry Wallace to improve rural and urban conditions in the most desperately impoverished areas of the south through flood control, electricity generation, rural electrification agrarian change, regional industrialization and urbanization in the context of comprehensive land use regional planning which included natural resource management and social investments in health, education and infrastructure.
It was the largest such exercise in the U.S., it served as a model for basin development throughout the U.S., especially in post dust bowl Midwest and developing Western states, and it became paradigmatic for developing countries as well. Founded in natural resource management, structural transformation and urbanization and industrialization, the TVA experience was also seen as a template for tropical development. As a technocratic exercise it was often lambasted as a socialist project (or Soviet-style planning) and from the left as an anti-democratic outcome of high handed experts. It did work, however, in a textbook manner, in transforming hard-scrabble, impoverished agriculture into modern forms, stimulating rural to urban migration and enhancing industrial development and other forms of energy-based development, and raising income health and education levels from truly those of third world countries to levels more in line with other areas in the U.S. While this model of comprehensive planning seemed to follow the recipe laid out by development economists and New Deal planners, and the kind of idea of linear progress, John Friedmann’s experience in Latin American in many ways changed that and his views of planning.
The Early 1960s witnessed the idea of moving the ballast of national economies into their interiors in Latin America. Rather than remaining in colonial capitals perched on coastlines, the idea was to situate important administrative and industrial cities in the interior of their countries. Building Brasilia, and enhancing Manaus and Belo Horizonte were archetypical in their ways, as was the development of Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela. All these cities developed fuller expression under authoritarian regimes, and in addition to urban development, embarked on massive infrastructure (dams for electricity) and industrial investments. Ciudad Guyana was developed on a famous waterfall to capture the energy to enhance industrial steel and manganese development. It became an important migration zone, but what then happened is rather than following the TVA model into a glorious future, it descended into what John Friedmann would call, the Citadel and the Ghetto: the world’s city style of massive poverty and informality, coupled with an international style modern urbanism with a high-wage managerial but also oligarchic class structure. In Ciudad Guyana this took the form of 1950 style suburban development coupled to the favela housing and livelihoods. These lives contrasted mightily with the planners imaginary and this clash of outcomes and its inequalities were movingly described by his friend and co researcher anthropologist, Lisa Peattie.
This experience would also thrust him into the Core and Periphery forms of planning and urbanism associated with the theories of underdevelopment and dependency that were so prominent in the intellectual architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. What was clear was that planning modalities in repressive environments and high levels of oligarchy and inequality were merely reproducing themselves within a new urban framing driven by “center” patterns of accumulation at the national, and international levels. After all US Steel was the main industrial beneficiary, and those suburban houses, fancy apartment towers were for its local and international managers, not for the more blue collar staff. In this sense the transformation of the region which was at the rhetorical level infused with ideas and ideologies of progress, had far more uneven outcomes and was not like the regional process which, for all its faults had been the development outcome of the TVA.
This failure of planning and planning theory pushed Friedmann into a much more complex set of analyses, where in fact he viewed the “expert systems” as lacking broader knowledge of societies and knowledge of and about local populations’ needs and desires even as they would be affected by plans and planners. His transactive planning and social learning models emphasized an approach the leaned on knowledge sharing as a more collective process and later on, insurgent and political action as increasingly key to transformation, especially as planning became more professionalized, bureaucratic and in many ways, complicit in structuring inequalities. While it has to be said, his framings were rather derivative from other stronger intellectual trends, his stylish prose, clarity of thought, and sociological training brought a more European sensibility to planning which while slowly changing, had been a kind of “tyranny of experts” — a legacy of new deal planners. As those planners moved from the rural to address more urban questions, and saw urban blight in many ways as part of the natural history of cities, he certainly felt that all the knowledge of places did not inhere in local planning departments. He was always attentive to the big picture of what shaped places, and to his credit, always saw rural and resources as a central part of understanding planning dynamics, and especially the dynamics of urbanization and especially in the third world.
As the profession moved away from the “rurality,” resource and urban connectivities, it ceded this arena to natural resource managers, and only very recently have these connections come back into planning focus, although very belatedly. Friedmann in this way was prescient but also very broadly experienced in national and international regional planning that deeply included rural livelihoods and transformations, and that in many ways these urban areas could not be understood without resource hinterlands. It is this world view that explains why I am in Urban Planning.
At another level, he loved Latin American literature and especially its poets and musicians. He liked to translate Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, as well as the Spanish poet Frederico Lorca, and was an avid reader of Borges (who actually has plenty to say about planning), and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He kept interesting diaries, for example about his early travels to Manaus, and the Amazon in the chaotic interregnum of weak democracies before the iron handed authoritarians came to power. His Latin American experience was so colored by the authoritarian period, and so inspired by its artistic resistance that his later insistence on civil participation and insurgencies really come as no surprise.
It seems like a distant time, now, almost impossible to imagine given current intellectual cultures, but he would have gatherings where young faculty would meet with him, and read out favorite poems. I usually read Ann Sexton — a bohemian feminist poet. But he was a Neruda and Lorca guy, reading the poets who wrote under the authoritarian (Spanish and Chilean) moons.
By Stan Paul
For Urban Planning professor Susanna Hecht, the future of life on this planet as we know it is a matter of degrees — a scant few at that.
Hecht is part of a group of 50 University of California scholars and scientists addressing the 10-campus Carbon Neutrality Initiative proposed by UC President Janet Napolitano in 2013. Under this initiative, the University of California aspires to become carbon neutral by 2025. Recent California legislation also calls for a marked increase in the amount of renewable resources providing electricity in California by 2030.
Hecht and her UC colleagues, led by Veerabhadran Ramanathan (renowned climate scientist from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography), are among those who want to “bend the curve,” or the “hockey stick” graph as Hecht refers to it, on the rise in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gases. A mere two-degree change in average temperature will portend future disaster from drought to sea-level rise, and changing weather patterns that most of the globe is not prepared for, according to experts representing a wide range of disciplines.
Hecht said, “We are already in the middle of this…and a lot of records are being broken on a weekly basis.”
The group of UC scholars, from fields as diverse as ethics and environmental justice to climate science and religion, met in October at the University of California’s Summit on Pathways to Carbon and Climate Neutrality: California and the World, led by California Governor Jerry Brown. The purpose of the meeting was to focus on solutions that could guide the state but also to provide solutions that could be used worldwide. UC research and recommendations were also part of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris.
In addition to carbon (which has a long life in the atmosphere), Hecht points out the many other factors that contribute to temperature rise, such as methane and HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) released into the environment, as well as the “heat island” effect our built environment, roads and urban centers create.
As a “carbon sink,” the tropical rainforest absorbs millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere, and Hecht points out that deforestation of the Amazon has dropped significantly in the last decade. This has had an impact, but the rainforest can’t do it alone, especially when deforestation continues in other parts of the world such as Indonesia.
Change will require not only scientific innovation but also social innovation that focuses on our relationship with forests, said the co-editor of “The Social Lives of Forests: Present and Future of Woodland Resurgence.”
Professor of Urban Planning Susanna Hecht is part of a team of 50 UC researchers and scientists who authored a report on climate change released Oct. 27.
“Bending the Curve,” was released at the UC Climate Neutrality Initiative Summit held in San Diego and includes 10 scalable solutions to reduce global greenhouse emissions such as methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and ozone. The report’s title refers to “flattening the upward trajectory of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and consequent global climate change.”
Hecht, who focuses on political ecology, also was among UC scholars cited for providing “critical analyses and some of the quantitative estimates mentioned in the executive summary.”
Read the full UCLA story: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/ucla-uc-experts-release-report-with-solutions-to-slow-climate-change
Read the report “Bending the Curve”: http://uc-carbonneutralitysummit2015.ucsd.edu/_files/Bending-the-Curve.pdf
Dr Hecht’s research focuses on the intersections of economies, cultures and land use, and the socio-environmental effects of these processes, an approach now widely known as political ecology.
Her focus area is the Latin American tropics, and more specifically Amazonia. Her research has major implications for understanding the dynamics of land use change and what they imply about human relations with nature, economies and tropical development. Her work includes analytics on climate change, mitigation and longer term rethinking of longer term strategies under globalization, intense migration and novel climate dynamics.
Her work has forged new understandings in the development of political ecology including that of deforestation and forest recovery, the “social lives of forests” as part of environmental history as well as current practices. These include, the analysis and viability of traditional tropical land use practices such as agroforestry and the creation of Amazonian black earths (a legacy of and continuing practice by many indigenous populations as well as Amazon peasants). Her early work on indigenous anthropogenic soils was groundbreaking, as it documented how in fact these soils, the product of biochar–and low temperature fires— were produced. She also studies the impacts of migration on forest and land use. In addition to these more arcane systems she has carried out extensive research on the livestock sector, analyzed in her book Fate of the Forest, and soy economies in Latin America (the main deforestation drivers) and has just edited a major themed issue on this topic for the Journal of Peasant Studies, the top ranked rural development journal.
Dr. Hecht’s interest in alternatives to deforestation involved engagement in the analytics of non timber forest products and their development, including extractive reserves, which now cover more than 10 million Ha in the Amazon Basin and reflect the outcome of new institutions under the pressure of social movements of traditional peoples of various kinds. She has also paid attention to the gender implications that inhere in land use change from the most remote peasantries in the upper Amazon, to highly linked in central American women farmers whose family members reside in the US.
Forest resurgence in the tropics is now a widely documented phenomena but her work in this area more than a decade ago was landmark.
Through complex analyses that range from Forest transition theory, global markets, agrocecology and the foucauldian politics of governmentality, the widespread occurrence of forest recovery suggests a huge realm of new policy interventions and practices for this largely orphaned segment of forest dynamics. These questions are exploreed in two of her edited books. The Social Lives of forests, edited with ethnobotanist Christine Padoch and ethnoarcheologist Kathleen Morrison explored the ideologies, environmental histories, and current practices and processes that produced forests in the present day and in the past. Under current conditions forest recovery and control of clearing will be essential to any climate policy. This book thus shows how a complex range of activities—using global examples from the top scholars in a range of disciplines — have produced both livelihoods and forested landscapes. Another edited volume explored the questions of migration, resources and rural livelihoods with colleagues from the Central American policy and research NGO, PRISMA setting the stage for continuing research on the dynamics of migration. urbanization and land use, and thier implications for forests and forest dependent populations.
Finally her research focuses on historical ecology and environmental economics. Her book The Scramble for the Amazon won the American Historical associations Best Book in Environmental history Award in 2015, and her earlier volume, Fate of the Forest also won multiple awards. The key to these books is their use of the “natural archive” as well as the human one. Dr’ hecht rigorous historiography and scientific training coupled to rich and fluid prose have made her books academic best sellers.She is at work on the third volume for this trilogy on contemporary Amazonia
Using archival research, remote sensing, palynological data and forest census materials Dr Hecht has been engaged in the analysis of “Deforestation” before modern Deforestation: that is understanding the nature and social dynamics of forest change over time including carbon loss and uptake in Amazonian ecosystems 100 years ago. These researches feed into an understanding of landuse change under current regional development scenarios and most especially the questions of the global carbon economy.
Dr. Hecht’s work has been funded by NSF, NASA, MacArthur Foundation, ACLS, Guggenheim, Ford Foundation, Wenner Gren Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, National Geographic Society, Shelby Cullom David fellowships and the Institute for Advanced studies and CASBS among many other sources. Her work has also recieved generous funding from UCLA’s Latin American Institute, The Global Public Affairs Program, the UCLA Academic Senate and the University of California Office of the President..
Dr. Hecht is a member of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, and holds a Professorial appointment at the Graduate Institute for Development Studies in Geneva.
SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS
The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers, and Defenders of the Amazon
Purchase on Amazon.com
By Angel Ibanez
UCLA Luskin student writer
Dr. Susanna Hecht, professor of Urban Planning, has been honored as the winner of this year’s Elinor Melville Prize for the best book on Latin American Environmental History.
The Elinor Melville Prize, established in 2007, is a competitive award for the best book in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese published during the previous year on the “study of the mutual influences of social and natural processes in Latin America” and its scholarly contribution by the Conference on Latin American History.
Hecht’s book, The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha, tells the story of the vast exploitation of the Amazon basin by the nineteenth century’s imperial and industrial powers for its rubber, the journey of one of Brazil’s most accomplished writers to unveil the inner workings of the exploitation along the way and the complex social, political and environmental history of the Amazon.
Dr. Hecht’s research has focused on political ecology and her results have had major implications for climate change adaptation, mitigation and longer term rethinking of longer-term resilience strategies. She has also been funded by the NSF, NASA, MacArthur Foundation, ACLS Guggenheim and the Institute for Advanced studies among many other sources.