Alfred Russel Wallace OM FRS,

Father of Biogeography (1823 - 1913)

Alfred Russel Wallace was a naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist. Wallace did extensive fieldwork, first in the Amazon River basin and then in the Malay Archipelago, where he identified the faunal divide now termed the Wallace Line, which separates the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia. He was considered the 19th century’s leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is called the “Father of Biogeography”. Wallace was one of the leading evolutionary thinkers of the 19th century and made many other contributions to the development of evolutionary theory besides being co-discoverer of natural selection. These included the concept of warning colouration in animals, and the Wallace effect, a hypothesis on how natural selection could contribute to speciation by encouraging the development of barriers against hybridisation. Wallace’s 1904 book Man’s Place in the Universe was the first serious attempt by a biologist to evaluate the likelihood of life on other planets. He was also one of the first scientists to write a serious exploration of the subject of whether there was life on Mars.

Sir Ebenezer Howard OBE,

Father of New Towns (1850 - 1928)

Sir Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the garden city movement, is known for his publication To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898), the description of a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature. The publication resulted in the founding of the garden city movement, and the building of the First Garden City, Letchworth Garden City, commenced in 1903. The second true Garden City was Welwyn Garden City (1920) and the movement influenced the development of several model suburbs in other countries, such as Forest Hills Gardens designed by F. L. Olmsted Jr. in 1909, Radburn NJ (1923) and the Suburban Resettlement Program towns of the 1930s (Greenbelt, Maryland; Greenhills, Ohio; Greenbrook, New Jersey and Greendale, Wisconsin). Howard aimed to reduce the alienation of humans and society from nature, and hence advocated garden cities and Georgism. Howard is believed by many to be one of the great guides to the town planning movement, with many of his garden city principles being used in modern town planning. Howard read widely, including Edward Bellamy’s 1888 utopian novel, Looking Backward, and Henry George’s economic treatise, Progress and Poverty. He disliked the way modern cities were being developed and thought people should live in places that should combine the best aspects of both cities and the countryside.

Frank Lloyd Wright,

Father of Organic Architecture (1867 - 1959)

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed. Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater (1935), which has been called “the best all-time work of American architecture”. His creative period spanned more than 70 years. Wright was the pioneer of what came to be called the Prairie School movement of architecture and he also developed the concept of the Usonian home in Broadacre City, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States. In addition to his houses, Wright designed original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums and other structures. He often designed interior elements for these buildings as well, including furniture and stained glass. Wright wrote 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”. After Wright’s death, most of his archives were stored at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Taliesin (in Wisconsin), and Taliesin West (in Arizona.) These collections included more than 23,000 architectural drawings, about 40 large-scale architectural models, some 44,000 photographs, 600 manuscripts and more than 300,000 pieces of office and personal correspondence.

Jane Jacobs OC OOnt,

Mother of New Urbanism (1916 - 2006)

Jane Jacobs was an American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist who influenced urban studies, sociology, and economics. Her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of city-dwellers. It also introduced the sociological concepts “eyes on the street” and “social capital”. Jacobs organized grassroots efforts to protect neighborhoods from “slum clearance”, in particular Robert Moses’ plans to overhaul her own Greenwich Village neighborhood. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have passed directly through SoHo and Little Italy. She was arrested in 1968 for inciting a crowd at a public hearing on that project. As a mother and a writer who criticized experts in the male-dominated field of urban planning, Jacobs endured scorn from established figures. She did not have a college degree or any formal training in urban planning, and her lack of credentials was seized upon as grounds for criticism. Jacobs is credited, along with Lewis Mumford, with inspiring the New Urbanist movement. She has been characterized as a major influence on decentralist and radical centrist thought. While Jacobs saw her greatest legacy to be her contributions to economic theory, it is in the realm of urban planning that she has had her most extensive impact.

Edward Osborne Wilson,

Father of Biodiversity

Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929), usually cited as E. O. Wilson, is an American biologist, theorist, naturalist and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he has been called the world’s leading expert. Wilson has been called the “Father of Biodiversity”, his environmental advocacy, and his secular-humanist and deist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters. Among his greatest contributions to ecological theory is the theory of island biogeography, which he developed in collaboration with the mathematical ecologist Robert MacArthur, which was the foundation of the development of conservation area design, as well as the unified neutral theory of biodiversity of Stephen Hubbell. Wilson is the Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, a lecturer at Duke University,[7] and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (for On Human Nature in 1979, and The Ants in 1991) and a New York Times bestselling author for The Social Conquest of Earth, Letters to a Young Scientist, and The Meaning of Human Existence.

Satish Kumar,

Father of Deep Ecology

Satish Kumar (born 9 August 1936), is an Indian activist and editor. He has been a Jain monk, nuclear disarmament advocate, pacifist, and is the current editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine. Now living in England, Kumar is founder and Director of Programmes of the Schumacher College international centre for ecological studies, and of The Small School. His most notable accomplishment is a peace walk with a companion to the capitals of four of the nuclear-armed countries – Washington, London, Paris and Moscow, a trip of over 8,000 miles. Inspired by Bertrand Russell’s civil disobedience against the atomic bomb, in 1962 Kumar and his friend E.P. Menon decided to dedicate themselves to undertaking a peace walk from India to the four capitals of the nuclear world and decided to carry no money on their trip. They called it a ‘Pilgrimage for Peace’. He insists that reverence for nature should be at the heart of every political and social debate. Defending criticism that his goals are unrealistic, he has said, “Look at what realists have done for us. They have led us to war and climate change, poverty on an unimaginable scale, and wholesale ecological destruction. Half of humanity goes to bed hungry because of all the realistic leaders in the world. I tell people who call me “unrealistic” to show me what their realism has done. Realism is an outdated, overplayed and wholly exaggerated concept”.

Paolo Saturnini,

Father of Slow Cities

Paolo Saturnini is former Mayor of Greve in Chianti, a little town of Tuscany. Inspired by the Slow Food organization, Cittaslow was founded in Italy in October 1999, following a meeting organised by Saturnini in Tuscany. Cittaslow’s goals include improving the quality of life in towns by slowing down its overall pace, especially in a city’s use of spaces and the flow of life and traffic through them. The new thinking of a different way of urban development, based on the improving of life quality, moved him to spread his thoughts all over the country. His ideals were endorsed by Mayors of towns of Bra (Francesco Guida), Orvieto (Stefano Cimicchi), and Positano (Domenico Marrone). A 54-point charter was developed, encouraging high quality local food and drink, general conviviality and the opposition to cultural standardisation. Today, Cittaslow networks has 192 cities in 30 countries around the world. Municipalities which join the association are motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions of valuable works of art, squares, theaters, shops, cafés, restaurants, places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes, characterized by spontaneity of religious rites, respect of traditions through the joy of a slow and quiet living.

Yi-Fu Tuan,

Father of Humanist Geography

Yi-Fu Tuan (born on 5 December 1930) followed his father who was a diplomat to the United States to live. Before his family Yi-Fu was educated in China, The Philippines, and Australia. In 1951, Yi-Fu received a bachelor degree from Oxford University and then pursued a master degree, which he obtained in 1955. Receiving a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkley in 1957, he went on to teach as an instructor of Geography at Indiana University at Bloomington, University of Chicago in 1958, and then moved to the University of New Mexico in 1959. Known as the Father of Humanist Geography fraternity, Yi-Fu Tuan taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1983 until his retirement in 1998 and remains an emphatic presence on campus. Through his books, essays, letters to colleagues, and innumerable conversations with students, Tuan has profoundly influenced the way scholars think about the relationship between people and their environments. Yi-Fu is among the most decorated geographers of all time and regarded as a Saint-Exupery ‘Little Prince’ of Geography. A Fellow of both the American Academy and British Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in 2012 he received the Vautrin Lud International Geography Prize, the highest award given in the field of geography and modelled after the Nobel Prize.