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Coastal Heritage Curriculum Connection

Explore Curriculum Connection guides, which are written to accompany each issue of Coastal Heritage, a quarterly publication of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Coastal Heritage, Fall 2011 issue: Urban Thinker with an Ecologist’s Eye: Jane Jacobs’ Legacy

Focus Questions

  • Describe Jane Jacobs: what was her background, what did she write, and what was her fundamental philosophy on urban planning?
  • How does Jacobs compare revitalizing cities to ecology and ecosystems?
  • What aspects of post-WWII urban planning was she the most critical? What were some of her suggestions to urban planning?
  • What impacts of Jacobs’ approach to urban planning can be seen in Charleston or your own city?
  • Is it more important to have skilled workers or educated professionals in an urban economy? Support your answer.

Use the Curriculum Connection to address South Carolina Standards

Standard 5.2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of relationships among biotic and abiotic factors within terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. 

5-2.2: Summarize the composition of an ecosystem, considering both biotic factors (including populations to the level of microorganisms and communities) and abiotic factors.

5-2.3: Compare the characteristics of different ecosystems (including estuaries/salt marshes, oceans, lakes and ponds, forests, and grasslands).

5-2.4: Identify the roles of organisms as they interact and depend on one another through food chains and food webs in an ecosystem, considering producers and consumers (herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores), decomposers (microorganisms, termites, worms, and fungi), predators and prey, and parasites and hosts.

5-2.5: Explain how limiting factors (including food, water, space, and shelter) affect populations in ecosystems.

Standard 7-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of how organisms interact with and respond to the biotic and abiotic components of their environment. (Earth Science, Life Science)

7-4.1: Summarize the characteristics of the levels of organization within ecosystems (including populations, communities, habitats, niches, and biomes).

Standard B-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the flow of energy within and between living systems.

B-3.6: Illustrate the flow of energy through ecosystems (including food chains, food webs, energy pyramids, number pyramids, and biomass pyramids).

B-6.1: Explain how the interrelationships among organisms (including predation, competition, parasitism, mutualism, and commensalism) generate stability within ecosystems.

B-5.3: Explain how diversity within a species increases the chances of its survival.

Lesson Links and Additional Resources

The Noisette Company has worked to revitalize part of the old navy yard in North Charleston. Check out their website and research the historical layout of the navy yard and compare current efforts to revitalize the area. What aspects mirror the philosophy of Jane Jacobs?

Visit your local library and your city/town planner to learn about your city or town and how it was planned. What were the business, exports, etc. that helped the area to grow? Was your town the victim of urban vandalism or does it align to Jacobs’ idea of urban revitalization?

How would you make your own urban ecosystem? Pretend you are a scientist-turned-city planner and your job is to create a new town/city. Approach developing the city in terms of a true ecosystem: What abiotic and biotic factors would you need? How would you nurture food chains/food webs (think producers, consumers in terms of businesses, schools, trades/skills)? What stressors would your ecosystem face? What elements might alter the urban ecosystem?