NEVA PROJECT: CONTRIBUTORS
is a Professor in the Department of Urban and Rural Development at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet). She holds a Masters Degree in landscape
architecture from St. Petersburg Forest Technical Academy and a Ph.D.
in Botany from Moscow State University. A native of St. Petersburg,
she has concentrated her research on urban ecology and particularly
on the ecology of St. Petersburgs historic parks and gardens.
She recently published A Botanical Excursion around the City
(in Russian). She is currently serving as consultant to the Russian-Danish
project, "St. Petersburg Green Belt."
by the Moika River in St. Petersburg
is Coordinator of Sustainability Educationat Syracuse University. She holds a doctorate
from Stanford University in Slavic Languages and Literatures and a Master's degree in environmental communications from the SUNY COllege of Environmental Science and Forestry.. From 1990
to 2001 she taught Russian literature, language, and cultural history
at SUNY, Stony Brook and Macalester College. Her earlier
academic research, supported by fellowships from the National Endowment
for the Humanities and the Davis Center at Harvard University, focused
on Russian cultural attitudes toward nature; she edited and contributed
two essays to a two-volume special issue of Russian Studies in Literature
(2003) on that topic. In 1997 Dr. May studied the cultural underpinnings
of the Russian national park system, under a research and travel grant
from the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. She
has also published a book and several articles on Russian-English literary
translation and has co-translated two books from Russian.
of Applied Ecology, Faculty of Civil Engineering, St. Petersburg State
Technical University. He received a Master's Degree in Physiology from
St. Petersburg State University and a PhD in Human and Animal Physiology
from the Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of the
USSR Academy of Sciences, studying the environmental impact of thermal
pollution. He has served as Learned secretary of the "Man and Environment"
Research-Coordination Council for the Russian Ministry of Higher Education
and as Coordinator of International Environmental Educational Programs.
He is the author of more than 90 articles and works devoted to environmental
problems, including several books on environmental education and training
(Ecology for Hydroengineers, Environmental Engineering, Sustainable Water
Management etc.). He holds the title of Soros Associated Professor and
Corresponding Member ofthe International Academy of Science (Ecology and
Rachel and Nikolai
at the New Directions conference, Golden, CO, 2002
across disciplines and across cultures: The Neva River Project
Ours is an unusual
collaboration because it is not only interdisciplinary, between an aquatic
ecologist (N. Rolley), a landscape architect and botanist (M. Ignatieva),
and a scholar of Russian literature and culture (R. May), but also because
it is intercultural, between two Russians and an American. Though we
all speak Russian and English well, we still must translate ideas that
sometimes do not translate easily. More importantly, we come from significantly
different scholarly and academic contexts, where the notions of interdisciplinarity
differ markedly. As a result, we have each found the process difficult
and frustrating at times, but also transforming, as it has made us aware
of the assumptions we bring to our scholarly work and opened new ways
of thinking about our respective disciplines.
There are several lessons we can draw from our experience so far on
this project. First, for effective interdisciplinary collaboration to
take place, you need time for brainstorming, trial and error, and open-ended
exploration, before you can begin to ask the right questions. You also
need time and some imagination to adjust your own assumptions, in the
face of the very different perspectives of your collaborators. It can
be a challenge to respect the styles and assumptions of other disciplines
and to believe that they have relevance to your own. When you do come
to respect the other disciplines insights, you may find your own
work opening up to be much more multifaceted than it was before. And
this may, in turn, require that you find a new language or a new medium
in which to develop your ideas.
Finally, we believe that it is not a coincidence that nearly all the
current New Directions grant projects are place-based. A place can provide
an excellent connection between otherwise disparate disciplines, as
a source of shared affection and shared experience. Though most humanists
eyes may glaze over at the mention of hydrology, and most urban ecologists
may have no time for poetry, everyone with any connection to St. Petersburg
can sympathize with a desire to study the Neva in all its many dimensions.