Environment Seminar: Rethinking Our Thinking About Transportation Infrastructure

When and Where

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Room SS2102
Sidney Smith Building
100 St. George Street Toronto ON


Shoshanna Saxe


Abstract: The best environmental solution to a given problem is strongly affected by our choices about boundaries of analysis. Which questions are in scope? Which are out? This is particularly the case for infrastructure, which has complex system scale, often wicked, impacts. In planning and funding transportation infrastructure we significantly truncate the scope of analysis. In the last 20 years, life cycle assessment (LCA) has been applied to transportation infrastructure decisions in attempts to expand the usual boundaries. However, even LCA, which was developed for consumer products, truncates thinking about transportation infrastructure. This talk will discuss the importance of holistic thinking about transportation infrastructure, and how it changes our perceptions of what should and should not be built.

Brief Bio: Dr. Shoshanna Saxe is an Assistant Professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering. She investigates the relationship between the infrastructure we build and the society we create to identify opportunities – and pathways – to better align infrastructure provision with sustainability. Saxe is a former Action Canada fellow, sits on Waterfront Toronto’s Capital Peer Review Panel and the board of the International Society for Industrial Ecology. She has been recognized by Clean 50 as one of Canada’s emerging environmental leaders and was awarded a 2019 Engineering Medal – Young Engineer. Her research and commentary have been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The BBC, The Toronto Star, The Financial Post, and Wired, including “What We Really Need Are Good ‘Dumb’ Cities” (New York Times, July 2019)


100 St. George Street Toronto ON