The Research Problem

How has Boulder's urbanization changed the natural environment, to what extent, and when? It is not necessary to survey the entire city to gain an appreciation of these changes; much can be learned by focusing on a portion of a single watershed. Case studies and reconnaissance surveys such as these are used frequently for preliminary exploration of complex phenomena and for planning larger research projects. The value of such a study relies on how well the case represents the processes found throughout the environment. A good "case" for our study is the University of Colorado main campus at Boulder. It lies almost entirely within the Boulder Creek watershed and its growth since the late nineteenth century is closely related to Boulder's development as a major university city. In focusing on Boulder Creek and the University of Colorado, we will address how the development of the campus has 1) changed the natural groundcover in the watershed; 2) the extent of the modifications; and 3) when these changes occurred.

Effects of Urbanization on Environment: An Overview

The interaction between society and environment is a fundamental theme of much geographical research. Cities are an excellent place to study these interactions. The process of urbanization results in large numbers of people gathering in relatively small areas. There the effects of habitation are concentrated and focused. Human effects on the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere are often so pronounced that cities can be said to create their own environments. They do this in a number of ways:

created 3/9/2002; last revised 5/1/2002 - Matt Kuhn & Andreas von der Dunk