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Environmental History app

Critical Environments is interested in the development of a University of Warwick Environmental History app. The app will offer a way of tracking the expansion of the campus over the past fifty years and both visualizes and ‘sounds’ the ways in which its boundaries have evolved in relation to surrounding farmlands, brownfield sites and green corridors. The app would function via an online desktop interface as well as via a mobile GPS interface activated “in the field” that could trigger content (including textual as well as other media such as audio, visual and video content) on smart phones, at relevant campus locations. We anticipate further opportunities for interactive user input.

With the app, users will be able to navigate a variety of geo-referenced data, including the history of campus population, biodiversity, waste and energy consumption. The app will reveal how the architecture of campus buildings has altered over the decades within the context of changing building practices and materials, evolving conceptions of the university’s role, and new forms of financing and developing site-based projects. In addition, the app will allow users to “peel away” the surface and substratum of specific sites in order to reveal and index the deeper natural and human histories intertwined at the university’s archaeologically and environmentally rich location.

As well as providing a means for users to access various layers and sites of the environmental history of the campus, and to contribute to this ongoing history, the app will also constitute a significant critical and pedagogical tool for imagining our collective environmental future. By tracing the shifting volumes and trajectories of animals, humans, vehicular traffic, vegetation, building and energy supply, as well as tracking metereological data over time, we will be able to more effectively consider the challenges that confront us in ensuring a more sustainable campus environment for the next fifty years and beyond. A significant additional benefit will be the incentive to explore and read the campus as an “open text” in its own right, with varying degrees of legibility, as users take the app into the field, to become more critical users of and participants in their daily environment – thus putting University of Warwick at the forefront of models for environmental pedagogy.