University of Calgary

Noel Gerard Keough

  • Associate Professor Emeritus - Planning and Landscape

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


B. Eng. Memorial University of Newfoundland, MEDes University of Calgary, PhD Philosophy University of Calgary

Personal Statement

The most consistent threads of my work over the past 20 years are a desire to understand the concept of sustainability, the importance of sustaining human communities and the problematic nature of our relationship with technology.

I try to practice an innovative approach to teaching and curriculum design, employing participatory, popular education, and creative approaches; and providing students with a collegial, dialogue-centred, experiential educational environment.

My professional experience hasbeen divided between local and international development work. Locally, I am aco-founder, former Executive Director and currently Senior Researcher with Sustainable Calgary Society and co-founder of Civic Camp. My international experience includes work in Central and South America, Eastern Europe, ThePhilippines, Central Asia, China and The Middle East.

Current Research Interest: Philosophical Orientations and Practical Considerations of Sustaining Ecological Community Design Are we building cities for cars?

Are we building cities as economic growth machines? Or are we building communities to facilitate authentic and sustaining human experience?

Any consideration of sustainable design begins implicitlyor explicitly with the questions of what it is to be human and how are we tolive in the world. In the context of sustainability these questions beg the further question: what exactly do we want to sustain? More often than not the implicit answer, embodied in the dominant sustainability theory of ecological modernization, has been - the status quo. My contention is that what we want to sustain is authentic human experience in place-based, sustaining ecological communities. Through my research and teaching in EVDS, I have been elaborating on this thesis, and investigating and testing how we design for such communities.

I contend that sustaining ecological community is themost enduring, irreducible form of human flourishing and that our economic andsocial systems should be designed in their service. Philosophically, myapproach to sustaining ecological community design draws on phenomenology andcritical theory. My conceptual tools include place, scale, nature, complexityand transformational learning. My approach foregrounds the ethical dimension ofsustainability, is concerned with the question of authenticity and promotes adialogue-based approach to decision-making including deliberative democraticand policy-making practices.

I am interested in the relationship between sustaining ecological community design and the ecological, social, economic and governance principles of sustainability. In my approach I seek to employ the conceptual and analytical tools of environmental science; architecture; community, urban and regional planning; and industrial design within a continuum of lived experience in sustaining ecological communities. The practical application and engagement aspects of my work are illustrated through the ongoing work of two grass roots projects I co-founded: Sustainable Calgary Society and Civic Camp

Selected Work


  • Keough, Noel, Maryam Nabavi and Jeff Loomis (2006) A Citizens’ Agenda: For a More Healthy, Caring, and Vibrant Calgary, Sustainable Calgary Society, Calgary, Canada.
  • Keough, Noel (co-author) (2004) 2004 State of Our City Report, Sustainable Calgary Society, Calgary, Canada.
  • Keough, Noel (2001) 2001 State of Our City Report, Sustainable Calgary Society, Calgary, Canada.

Chapters and Essays in Books

  • Keough, Noel, Samira Smirat and Stan Benjamin (2010) Lessons from a Participatory Approach to Household Greywater Re-Use in Jordan in McIlwaine, S. and Mark Redwood, Greywater Use in the MENA Region, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Keough, Noel, Samira Smirat and Stan Benjamin (2007) Sustainable Community Wastewater Project Implementation in the Jordan Valley. in Efficient Management of Wastewater its Treatment and Reuse, Claudia Wendland and Ismail Al Bz (eds), Institute for Wastewater Management and Water Protection, Hamburg Technical University, Hamburg, Germany.
  • Keough, Noel (2005) The Sustainable Calgary Story: A Local Response to a Global Challenge, in Phillips, Rhonda (ed) Community Indicators Measuring Systems, Ashgate. P. 65-96.
  • Keough, Noel (2002) Using Indicators to Engage the Community in Sustainability Debates, in Linking Trade, Environment, and Social Cohesion, J. Kirton and V. MacLaren,(eds.), Ashgate, P. 277-296.

Major Refereed Journal Articles

  • Keough, Noel (2008) Sustaining Authentic Human Experience in Community, New Formations: a journal of culture/theory/politics, Issue 64, April, pp. 65-77,
  • Keough, Noel (1998) Participatory Development Principles and Practice. Community Development Journal, Oxford, England. Volume33, Number 3, July 1998 P. 187-196.
  • Keough, Noel (1997) The Ecological Dimension of Freires’ Conscientization, Social Development Issues.V 19 No. 2,  P. 157-167.
  • Keough, Noel, Linda Grandinetti and Emman Carmona (1995) Tales of The Sari-Sari: In Search of Bigfoot, Convergence: Journal of International Council for Adult Education. Volume 28, No.4
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