Call for Proposals

Workshop on Delta/Coastal Cities and Environmental Change

October 19-20, 2019

Shanghai, China

Major river deltas have become the setting of megacities that are entrepots for exchange flowing from their hinterlands to distant global markets.  The creation of these urban complexes has commonly involved transformations of pre-existing wetland settings. These reclamation projects have typically produced land for expanding urban space but at the expense of valuable ecosystem services that get lost in the process. With climate change and rising sea levels, there is emerging concern with the need to restore ecological functions that once worked to create the very places that now are imperiled.  With the concentration of the globe’s population in coastal cities that are the economic engines of their respective countries, these urban complexes are critical locations in adaptive strategies.  Historical perspectives are essential to trace how human-environmental relationships have evolved in these locations and to identify adaptive strategies for the future.

We invite proposals for paper presentations at a workshop at Shanghai University that examine the long-term transformation of river deltas and the development of coastal urban complexes.  We intend to examine the processes and policies that enabled conversion of wetlands into cities, current issues that pertain to sustaining cities in deltaic and other coastal settings, and the important role of historical scholarship in tracing the trajectories of nature-society relations that continue to play out in the age of climate change.

The workshop welcomes contributions that address coastal cities around the world (Venice, Amsterdam, Dacca, etc.), although the organizers hope to spotlight Shanghai, China and New Orleans, USA.  Organizers hope to stimulate a wider discussion and comparative long-term studies of deltaic and coastal cities globally.

Specific topics might include:

-flood control infrastructure

-wetland drainage for agriculture

-modification of hydrologic systems for navigation

-changes to local natural resource-based economies

-efforts to stabilize deteriorating environmental conditions

-multiple stages of environmental transformation

-human migration into or away environment changes

-social, economic, and political adjustments to changing environmental conditions

-social, economic, and political commitments to perpetuate altered urban environments

The workshop will take place October 19-20, 2020 at Shanghai University. 

Please submit a 200 word abstract and a one-page CV to the conference organizers Iris Borowy, [email protected], and Craig Colten, [email protected], by May 15, 2019.

We will select a group of participants by June 1, 2019. The sponsors will cover all local expenses, including lodging and meals. Some travel assistance will also be available for some participants. 

Image: Shanghai, Landsat-7, 2005. NASA.