Campus News

A&S Distinguished Prof Talks Sustainability


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 18, 2010)- A noted scholar in countless fields of political science, a superb teacher and a citizen of the university, the community and the Commonwealth, this year's College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor is a gem in the University of Kentucky's own backyard.

Political Science Professor Ernie Yanarella will discuss his approach to preserving that backyard in his 2010 Distinguished Professor Lecture, titled "The City as Fulcrum of Global Sustainability" at 7:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Oct. 20 in the W.T. Young Library Auditorium.

Yanarella, who has served as Director of the Environmental Studies Program and is Co-Director of the Center for Sustainable Cities, will outline several key components of an approach to sustainable cities that he and UK architecture professor Dick Levine have developed and refined over the last 20 years or more.

"Because sustainability is such a vague and seemingly catch-all term, I will present the operational definition that has guided us in doing field work, developing designs and seeking grants to advance the agenda of sustainable cities or really sustainable city-regions," Yanarella said. "UK faculty have developed a whole array of offices, committees, institutes and programs organized around sustainability, and their efforts are expressed in individual courses, whole curricula, community engagement activities and extensive disciplinary and interdisciplinary sustainability research."

Yanarella, whose research addresses a broad spectrum of issues including political and critical theory, nuclear deterrence and security, peace and disarmament, the politics of industrialization, labor relations and environmental concerns such as acid rain and urban sustainability, will also discuss a promising approach to sustainability design called the Sustainable City Game.

"I’ll show how it can serve as both a game and a tool for planning and designing sustainable projects," said Yanarella. "I will also explore some of the features of the software program we call the Sustainable Engine that drives the process of designing new projects and keeping city-regions in balance."  

Yanarella has published two single-authored books "The Missile Defense Controversy: Strategy, Technology, and Politics," "The Cross, the Plow, and the Skyline: Contemporary Science Fiction and the Ecological Imagination" and co-authored books "Energy and the Social Sciences," "The Acid Rain Debate," in addition to four co-edited volumes.

After arriving at UK in 1970, Yanarella became increasingly concerned with problems facing the Commonwealth. This concern for community issues led him to direct his skills to local problems such as the coal industry and its impact on the Commonwealth and the environment, in particular the sustainability of cities.

Over the years, Yanarella has emerged as an invaluable campus and a local, national, and international resource on questions of the environment and sustainability, and his scholarship skillfully links issues that face the Commonwealth of Kentucky to the nation and the world.

And Yanarella's talk will be no different.  The 2007-2010 Chellgren Professor plans to make sustainability theories and concepts more concrete and down to earth, through actual case studies of villages, towns or urban sustainability programs that he's visited, interrogated and analyzed in two books co-authored with Levine and Robert Lancaster.

Over almost four decades at UK, Yanarella's exceptional accomplishments have continued in research, teaching and service alike.

"My lecture will be an opportunity to listen to a more uncompromising way of achieving sustainability in our cities and on our campuses that goes beyond the 1001 green ideas that are being recommended by people, agencies and corporations that are doing little more than engaging in green washing!" said Yanarella. "I'll offer some important design and planning insights that can go a long way to making Lexington and the Bluegrass Region sustainable and will assist in transforming the University of Kentucky into a model of a sustainable campus for other institutions to emulate."

Yanarella's talk is free and open to the public with no registration necessary. A reception will immediately follow in the W.T. Young Gallery.

For more information, please contact Christina Buscher at