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On Feb. 19 – 20, 2020 the inaugural Nature of Place Symposium united thought leaders across disciplines to explore the human experience of biophilia, highlight the values and importance of the concept of a biophilic city, and build excitement and appreciation for the importance of green space in cities.

In this online resource, the Nature of Place contributors present video, written summaries and more to take you inside this important gathering and invite you to join the conversation on these vital issues.

How to Use This Resource:

The Nature of Place Symposium was structured in four sessions, each with its own set of presentations. In this resource, you'll find each session represented by video of its presentations and panel video along with written summaries and supplementary resources.

Keynote Address: Environmental Strategies for Disease, Injury and Violence Prevention

Speaker Bios and AbstractsIn her keynote address, USDA Forest Service research social scientist Dr. Michelle C. Kondo shared her research on the relationship between nature and human health and the benefits of vacant lot greening. By implementing changes in our cities and implementing more green spaces, we can create quality places in which all people, Dr. Kondo says, can feel a sense of pride and attachment.

Session 1: Sense of Place

Pittsburgh is a member of the Biophilic Cities Network, which means is it is committed to the idea of green, healthy place for its residents to live. What are the benefits of bringing elements of nature in our built environment and how can we do that successfully?

The Presentations:

Panel Discussion:

Session 2: Health and Wellness

What are the human health benefits of spending time in nature and including biophilic design in our built environment?

The Presentations:

Panel Discussion:

Session 3: Spirituality and Equity

Biophilia has been woven into the tapestry of human culture and spirituality for ages, and it appears in many forms, including traditional ecological knowledge. What can we learn from this, and how do we acknowledge and address the fact that this relationship to nature has not been equitably respected?

The Presentations:

Panel Discussion:

Session 4: Access to Nature

Access to nature is vital to humanity, but how do we ensure that access is equitable and that the importance of it is understood?

The Presentations:

Panel Discussion:

Join the Movement!

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The Phipps Research Institute for Biophilia and Science Engagement acknowledges the connection between human and environmental health. The institute studies the built and natural environments and their intersection with human health and wellness. 

Questions? Contact Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas at

Select photos © Paul g. Wiegman

Sponsored in Part by

An Anonymous Family Foundation

evolveEA Sustainable Architecture


Duquesne University Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences


Jewish Healthcare Foundation


Renovation Services Incorporated