Ghost ecologies: storytelling and futures in the Athabasca oil sands

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dc.contributor.author Knight, Jonathan E
dc.date.accessioned 2017-05-08T19:40:29Z
dc.date.available 2017-05-08T19:40:29Z
dc.date.issued 2017-08-01 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2097/35572
dc.description.abstract The contemporary globalized world is full of wicked problems. A wicked problem is difficult to resolve, complex, and solving one aspect of a problem may create other problems. Wicked problems are shaped by invisible forces and flows. Landscape architects are uniquely poised to address wicked problems with their skills and capacity to think across systems and scales in spatio-temporal, ecological, and cultural dimensions. Landscape architects also communicate through visually-accessible methods which tell a story. Storytelling in landscape architecture seeks to reveal, connect, and tie together relationships and processes of the past and present to inform future possibilities of a place. Methods of storytelling can be used to address wicked problems because of their utility in inquiry and ideation. Developed through an original methodology using maps, diagrams, photomontage, and photographs, this project creates a storytelling framework which iteratively uses inquiry and representation to identify dilemmas, pose questions, and address issues as a means to reveal the impacts of forces on a wicked problem. The site selected to test this proposed methodology is the Athabasca oil sands in northern Alberta, Canada. Visible from space, the potential minable area of the oil sands spans an area the size of New York State. The world’s quest for oil has placed this landscape and its people on center stage. Billions of dollars’ worth of industry investment has put the landscape and people under siege through ever-shifting visible and invisible forces and flows. Dilemmas created by the region’s mining industry not only directly impact local people and landscape, but the greater world as well. Hampered with environmental, social, political, and economic issues, the future of this region is largely unknown, as there are few formal plans and regulations to ensure landscape reclamation and guide urban development. To tell the story of the oil sands, four themes—oil, infrastructure, environment, and people were analyzed. These themes—referred to as "ghost ecologies" because of their inconspicuous nature—when considered together, reveal key regional dilemmas and highlight new opportunities for future directions. Analysis inspired thinking toward future scenarios that imagine a series of new, highly productive and programmatically-integrated futures for the oil sands and its people. The unique process of inquiry and discovery led to a final project framework that identified methods for landscape architects to use in addressing wicked problems. A variety of audiences can consume this work to address the challenges of the Athabasca oil sands and other wicked problems in the world. To the public, the work serves as an evocative display of critical dilemmas worthy of future consideration. For professional and student landscape architects, the work reveals methods of inquiry to address wicked problems through the discipline. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Kansas State University en
dc.subject Mapping en_US
dc.subject Diagramming en_US
dc.subject Photomontage en_US
dc.subject Photography en_US
dc.subject Landscape architecture en_US
dc.subject Storytelling en_US
dc.title Ghost ecologies: storytelling and futures in the Athabasca oil sands en_US
dc.type Report en_US
dc.description.degree Master of Landscape Architecture en_US
dc.description.level Masters en_US
dc.description.department Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning en_US
dc.description.advisor Jessica Canfield en_US
dc.date.published 2017 en_US
dc.date.graduationmonth August en_US


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