2014 Annual Lecture with Noam Cook


Today we post a video of last year’s Town and Regional Planning Annual Lecture, “Natural, Artefactual and Human Systems – A look at California’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan” given by Professor Noam Cook on 8 May 2014.

Below is Professor Cook’s abstract for the talk:

The world in which we live and the way we live our lives are now utterly dependent upon growing networks of interdependent systems. These systems themselves face increasing threats to their stability and sustainability, especially from the escalating demands we make of them.

The fields of planning and public policy are in a centrally influential position to foster theories and practices that support the design of systems that function both more effectively and more responsibly.

In keeping with this, building on the work of Sir Geoffrey Vickers, I argue for the need to recognise three distinct kinds of systems: natural, artefactual and human. Each of these has unique requirements for its own stability and sustainability. The effective interdependent functioning of all three, in turn, is dependent upon the degree to which each is stable and sustainable.

I illustrate these points with the case of a massive multi-year, multi-billion dollar public water project in California, currently in the planning stage, that will have far-reaching impact on the environmental, economic, and social future of the state.