About Us

Welcome to the Miami-Dade Urban Long Term Research Area (ULTRA) network! Our project, supported and funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. BCS-0948988, seeks to understand how biophysical processes of climate change interact with Miami's socioecological structure. Working within a framework of urban political ecology, we see ecological disturbance and resilience and the social dimensions of vulnerability as fundamentally intertwined. Our research approach considers how these interactions can potentially lead to “growing inequalities, increasing vulnerabilities, and accelerating rates of change” and, at the same time, “present openings for responding positively to change” (Leichenko and O’Brien 2008: 5). The Miami-Dade ULTRA project believes that by better understanding these complex articulations, we can begin to imagine new kinds of just socioecological futures.

As our research in the urban political ecology of Miami-Dade has progressed, two aspects of our approach have emerged to become key, providing intellectual coherence to this socially engaged research project that links multiple social, behavioral, and physical science disciplines. One aspect is the importance of a historical narrative throughout, whether we are researching the spatial patterns of urban settlement, the geology that underlies the city’s built environment and infrastructure, or the creation of the horticultural landscape comprising Miami-Dade’s contemporary vegetation. Each of these examples is intertwined with the other in the historical narrative. The second aspect concerns the importance of engaged participatory community research. For reasons having to do with its demography, its recent history, and its vulnerability to sea level rise, our research in Miami-Dade finds a gap between on the one hand, existing environmental and ecological knowledge and policy-making, and on the other hand, a potentially receptive and active citizenry.

ULTRA-MIA research is organized into 3 working groups: