*NEW* SPRING 2020 - How Americans Live, Work, Shop, and Play and What it Means for the Environment

Robert Healy
LS 760-34
Spring 2020
Wednesdays, 6:15-8:45 PM
242 Classroom Building
*NEW COURSE* Begins January 15* - Ends April 15 (note: *Monday classes begin on Wednesday, January 8 to accommodate Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday on January 20; no class on March 11)
Watch a course preview. The YouTube icon, full colour

People take the places where they spend their waking hours for granted.  Yet the landscape we inhabit is a complex product of history, of economics, of government action and of personal tastes.  For most of American history, where people lived depended on where they worked (and hence on the needs of the firms that employed them) and where they shopped and played depended on where they lived.  Technological changes, particularly highways and the Internet, would seem to fundamentally change those relationships, yet the hand of the past still lies heavily on the landscape.  This course will show how various forces produced the American landscape, the surprising role of a few “visionaries,” and how land use choices affect the natural environment.


Living:  Early cities, birth of the streetcar suburb, the “landscape of race,” post WWII suburbanization, slums and Urban Renewal, the abortive “New Town” movement, exurbs, urban revival, gentrification, second homes, New Urbanism


Working:  the Industrial Revolution, early offices, the elevator and the “skyscraper,” multi-story and one-story industrial buildings, agglomeration economies, growth of the service sector, women in the labor force, open offices, working from home, WeWork


Shopping:  the “high street,” the department store, Sears and catalog sales, the automobile and strip commercial, chain stores, Big Box I, Big Box II, the shopping mall (open and enclosed), outlet stores, dollar stores, e-commerce


Playing:  Olmsted and urban parks, National parks, rail tourism for the rich, automobile tourism (Blue Ridge Parkway), festival tourism (from Chatauqua to Woodstock to Burning Man), the Disney parks, virtual tourism


Impacts on the Environment – Air, Water, Land, Climate – Andrew Goudie (Human

Impact on the Natural Environment – Table 5.7 of fourth ed. – 7th ed online at Duke); urban wildlife


Driving Forces


The work-live-school nexus

Transportation technologies


Visionaries (Andrew Jackson Downing, Olmsteds – father and son, Wallace Nichols, William Levitt, Robert Moses, Jane Jacobs, Victor Gruen, James Rouse, Andres Duany)

Government Action (the Vernacular Landscape v. the Official Landscape)

Literature and Art:  The Jungle, The Warmth of Other Suns, John Cheever (Checkov of the Suburbs—the Swimmer), Stepford Wives, David Sedaris, art (Riis, Lozowick, Ashcan School, John Sloan)

About Robert Healy
Nicholas School of the Environment

Bob Healy is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Policy in the Nicholas School and of Public Policy Studies in the Terry Sanford School. Before coming to Duke in 1986, he was a researcher with The Urban Institute, Resources for the Future and The Conservation Foundation/World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C. He has written ten books, mainly on issues of land use, environmental management and economic development. The latest are Knowledge and Environmental Policy (MIT 2011) and Environmental Policy in North America (Toronto 2013). Locally, he has long been involved with efforts to protect the New Hope Creek watershed. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles.