Research Statement

I research the informal learning and knowledge production that results when people from all walks of life come together to rethink, restore, and redesign urban ecosystems. My research touches on issues of environmental management, volunteer stewardship, and adaptive problem solving and draws inspiration from participatory action research, progressive education, and grassroots urban planning. On a more theoretical level, my work is informed by the fields of informal adult learning and science and technology studies, both of which point the way toward a new epistemology for participatory urban ecology.

I strive to achieve praxis in all of my work, blending theory with action, insight with real-world experimentation, and knowledge with practical know-how. I also write essays and produce podcasts on similar themes for The Nature of Cities.

Publications & Policy Reports

  • Silva, P., Gull Laird, S. (2017, in press). Adult Education. In: Russ, A. and Krasny, M. (Eds.), Urban environmental education review. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
  • Krasny, Marianne E., Philip Silva, Cornelia Barr, Zahra Golshani, Eunju Lee, Robert Ligas, Eve Mosher, and Andrea Reynosa. “Civic Ecology Practices: Insights from Practice Theory.” Ecology and Society 20, no. 2 (2015). doi:10.5751/ES-07345-200212.
  • Silva, Philip. “Adult Education: Learning Together in Community Gardens.” In Urban Environmetnal Education, edited by Alex Russ, 149–50. Ithaca, N.Y and Washington, D.C.: Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab, NAAEE, and EE Capacity, 2015.
  • Silva, P., & Krasny, M. E. (2014). Parsing participation: models of engagement for outcomes monitoring in urban stewardship. Local Environment, 0(0), 1–9.
  • Altman, L., Barry, L., Barry, M., Kühl, K., Silva, P., & Wilks, B. (2014). Five Borough Farm II: Growing the Benefits of Urban Agriculture in New York City. (C. Bauer & R. Fletcher, Eds.). New York City: Design Trust for Public Space.
  • Silva, P., & Krasny, M. (2013a). Outcomes Monitoring within Civic Ecology Practices in the NYC Region. Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab. Retrieved from
  • Silva, P., Barry, E., & Plitt, S. (2013). TreeKIT: Measuring, Mapping, and Collaboratively Managing Urban Forests. Cities and the Environment (CATE), 6(1). Retrieved from
  • Silva, P., Tumarkin, L., & Browne, D. (2007a). 21st Century Learning: Career and Technical Education Prepares  New York City Students for Future Success. New York City: Office of the New York City Public Advocate. Retrieved from
  • Silva, P., Tumarkin, L., & Browne, D. (2007b). Twelve for 2030: responses to plaNYC, a greener, greater New York. New York, N.Y.: Office of the New York City Public Advocate. Retrieved from

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