Nature and New York:

A Conference on Why Nature Matters to New Yorkers

About the Featured Speakers:

Tony Hiss, an independent author, lecturer, and consultant about restoring America’s cities and landscapes, became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 1963, and since 1994 has been a Visiting Scholar at New York University, first at the Taub Urban Research Center, and now at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. In 2002 he also became a Fellow of the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems (CIUS). He is the author of twelve books, most recently H2O: Highlands to Ocean (with Christopher Meier). Among his other books are the award-winning The Experience of Place and (with Robert Yaro) A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Metropolitan Area. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Gourmet, The Atlantic, and Travel & Leisure. The National Recreation and Park Association awarded Hiss its 1995 National Literary Award for a lifetime of “spellbinding and poignant” writing about “how our environments, modes of travel, and other aspects of the American landscape affect our lives.” In 1998 he received the George S. Lewis Award from the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter for 35 years of writing that has made New York a better city to live in.

William Kornblum conducts research in the areas of community studies, urban ecology and environmental sociology at the CUNY Graduate School and at Queens College. He worked for many years on studies of parks, open spaces, and environmental issues in the New York Metropolitan Region and other urban regions of the U.S. and Europe. His research has figured in the restoration of Central Park, Times Square, and the development of Gateway, Golden Gate, and other National Recreation areas. His recent volume, At Sea in The City, about the waterways of New York, draws extensively on this research and environmental activism. At the Graduate Center, he often teaches seminars on community studies, environmental sociology, and human ecology. Among his other books are Blue Collar Community and The Uptown Kids (co-authored with Terry Williams). He is active in a number of Graduate School research centers, chairs the Board of Directors of a large midtown Manhattan homeless drop-in center, and is a member of the editorial board of Dissent magazine. Kornblum was the recipient of the 2005 Presidential Career Award for the Practice of Sociology from the American Sociological Association.

Mark Kurlansky includes among his works the New York Times bestselling books Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (which received the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing, the Glenfiddich 1999 Food and Drink Award for Best Book, and was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the best books of 1997) and Salt: A World History. Kurlansky also is the author of 1968: The Year that Rocked the World, A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry, The Basque History of the World, A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny; a collection of stories called The White Man in the Tree; and children’s books, The Cod’s Tale, and The Girl who Swam to Euskadi. He also served as editor of Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History. Most recently, Kurlansky published his first novel, the food-themed Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue. His next book, The Big Oyster: New York on the Half Shell, is in press.

Phillip Lopate, a Brooklyn native, has written three personal essay collections—Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, and Portrait of My Body; two novels, Confessions of Summer and The Rug Merchant; two poetry collections, The Eyes Don’t Always Want to Stay Open and The Daily Round; a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children; a collection of his movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically; an urbanist meditation, Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan. In addition, there is a Phillip Lopate reader, Getting Personal: Selected Writings. Lopate also has edited several anthologies, including The Art of the Personal Essay and Writing New York. His essays, fiction, poetry, film and architectural criticism have appeared in The Best American Short Stories (1974), The Best American Essays (1987), several Pushcart Prize annuals, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Vogue, Esquire, Film Comment, Threepenny Review, Double Take, New York Times, Harvard Educational Review, Preservation, Cite, 7 Days, Metropolis, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other periodicals and anthologies. After working with children for twelve years as a writer in the schools, he taught creative writing and literature at Fordham, Cooper Union, University of Houston, and New York University. He currently holds the John Cranford Adams Chair at Hofstra University, and also teaches in the MFA graduate programs at Columbia, the New School and Bennington.

Anne Matthews teaches literature and environmental writing at Princeton University. Her three books form a trilogy of American place-studies, portraying distinctive American environments dealing with peril and change. In addition to Wild Nights: Nature Returns to the City, Where The Buffalo Roam was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in nonfiction and Bright College Years was named a New York Times Notable Book. She has also been a faculty member at Rutgers, Columbia, and New York University, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Outside, The American Scholar, Orion, and the Best American Science and Nature Writing series.

David Rosane is currently chief naturalist for Nurture New York’s Nature; ornithologist, author, film-maker, and Cornell University Research Associate in Tropical Ecology. Rosane also is a co-coordinator of the CUNY course The Nature of New York. He directs the Nature of New York Leadership Alliance (a.k.a. Green Teams), a network of CUNY faculty and students interested in exploring the ecology of New York City and promoting urban-based eco-literacy. Rosane is authoring the forthcoming The Nature of New York, a comprehensive look at the city’s nature and environment.

Robert Sullivan is the author of The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures at the Edge of the City, A Whale Hunt: Two years on the Olympic Peninsula with the Makah and their Canoe, Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants; and, most recently, How Not To Get Rich: Or Why Being Bad Off Isn't So Bad. He writes frequently for magazines, such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Dwell and Vogue. He is at work on a history of roads in America, to be published this summer, and a biography of Thoreau.


About the Other Participants:

Theodore Kheel, a life-long New Yorker, is America’s most distinguished mediator and one of the City's most influential public advocates. Among his many initiatives, he is President and CEO of Nurture New York’s Nature, Inc. Mr. Kheel also recognized the need for a new urban environmental institute and provided major financial support for the founding of CIRCE.

John Waldman began in 2004 as Professor of Biology at Queens College after a 20-year career at the Hudson River Foundation. Waldman is an aquatic biologist and writer; his books include The Dance of the Flying Gurnards: America’s Coastal Curiosities and Beachside Wonders and Heartbeats in the Muck: the History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor.

Thomas Strekas is Dean of the Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Queens College and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Strekas is an inorganic chemist who studies structural aspects of metals in biological systems and metal complex interactions with biomolecules like DNA.

James Muyskens became the ninth president of Queens College on July 29, 2002 after having served as CEO and Dean of the Faculty for the Gwinnett University Center/University System of Georgia.

Frederick Buell is Professor of English at Queens College and the author of five books. A poet and cultural critic, he has written extensively about globalization and culture and about the cultural impacts of deepening environmental crisis. The latter is the subject of his recent From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century.

George Hendrey is Distinguished Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Queens College. With academic training in both engineering and ecology he brings an engineering perspective to research on global change issues. His current research interests are in responses of photosynthesis to non-steady state environmental conditions.

Devin Zuber, a scholar of Emerson and Thoreau, is a doctoral candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and Queens College.


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Thomas Strekas, Acting Director,
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