Baumer Lecture Series, Nichola Lowe


Mar 22, 2023



Knowlton Hall, Gui Auditorium
275 West Woodruff Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Biophilic Institutions: Building New Solidarities between the Economy and Nature

Climate change and economic insecurity are the two most pressing challenges for modern humanity and they are intimately linked: climate warming intensifies existing structural inequities, just as economic disparities worsen climate-induced suffering. But this interdependence creates an opportunity for institutional transformation.

In this talk, Professor Nichola Lowe will make the case for that institutional remaking to be biophilic, meaning it supports, rather than undermines life and livelihood. Drawing on ideas co-developed in an essay with her collaborator Natasha Iskander, she will offer grounded examples from the cities of Los Angeles and New Orleans.

While still works-in-progress, these emergent biophilic responses speak to the contingency and creativity of institutional spaces and particularly their use by progressive coalitions to foster life-affirming solidarities on the basis of shared vulnerability. Her hope with this talk is to inspire more of us to reimagine institutional change, making room for alternative economic practices that are regenerative in form and thus act to counter those that intensify human and environmental suffering.

Nichola Lowe is professor and interim department chair in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the institutional arrangements that lead to more inclusive forms of economic development, particularly the role of local policy and practice in aligning industrial innovation and equity. She has published 60 journal articles and book chapters and nearly 40 magazine articles, editorials, and case study briefs. Her book Putting Skill to Work: How to Create Good Jobs in Uncertain Times (MIT Press 2021) explores how labor market intermediaries harness uncertainty around skill in their negotiations with employers, advancing broader conceptions of expertise to include less educated frontline workers. She earned her PhD in Economic Development and Planning from MIT in 2003.


This event is approved for AICP CM credit. To claim your CM credits, log into your My APA account on the APA website and enter the event into your online CM event log.