Ecohumanism and the Ecological Culture

The Educational Legacy of Lewis Mumford and Ian McHarg

William J. Cohen, With a Foreword by Frederick R. Steiner
Book Cover

PB: $37.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1828-9
Publication: May 19

HC: $109.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1827-2
Publication: May 19

Ebook: $37.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1829-6
Publication: May 19

318 pages
6 x 9
4 figs., 5 line drawings, 17 halftones

Explores how the vision of ecohumanism was championed by Lewis Mumford and operationalized by Ian McHarg


Lewis Mumford, one of the most respected public intellectuals of the twentieth century, speaking at a conference on the future environments of North America, said, “In order to secure human survival we must transition from a technological culture to an ecological culture.” In Ecohumanism and the Ecological Culture, William Cohen shows how Mumford’s conception of an educational philosophy was enacted by Mumford’s mentee, Ian McHarg, the renowned landscape architect and regional planner at the University of Pennsylvania. McHarg advanced a new way to achieve an ecological culture―through an educational curriculum based on fusing ecohumanism to the planning and design disciplines.

Cohen explores Mumford’s important vision of ecohumanism—a synthesis of natural systems ecology with the myriad dimensions of human systems, or human ecology―and how McHarg actually formulated and made that vision happen. He considers the emergence of alternative energy systems and new approaches to planning and community development to achieve these goals.

The ecohumanism graduate curriculum should become the basis to train the next generation of planners and designers to lead us into the ecological culture, thereby securing the educational legacy of both Lewis Mumford and Ian McHarg.


“For those wishing to break down today’s seemingly impenetrable academic silos, William Cohen’s Ecohumanism and the Ecological Culture should be required reading. It is not only an intellectual biography of Ian McHarg and Lewis Mumford, his mentor; it is a step-by-step primer of how to build true interdisciplinarity—one idea, one course, one faculty hire, and one degree at a time.”
Robert Wojtowicz, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Art History at Old Dominion University

“If ever there was a time to resuscitate ecological planning, it is now, and Bill Cohen’s wonderful book helps us do that. This thoroughly researched and eloquently told story recounts Ian McHarg’s efforts to mold a new kind of ecologically literate planner/designer—inspired by the vision of his mentor Lewis Mumford. Cohen movingly shows how McHarg’s curriculum evolved and changed over time and ultimately—and sadly—disappeared. Full of rich narrative and personal stories, this book not only remembers McHarg’s ideas but also reengages them in educating the next generation of ecological planners. Ecohumanism and the Ecological Culture provides a critical starting point for rethinking the content and pedagogy of design and planning schools.”
Timothy Beatley, Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia

About the Author(s)

William J. Cohen is an Associate Professor of Practice in Planning and Community Development at Temple University's Tyler School of Art. He is the editor of People, Places, and Environment Reader, and author of Swanendael in New Netherland: The Early History of Delaware's Oldest Settlement at Lewes.