Skip to content

Call for Abstracts

This symposium aims to address inequities experienced by a range of underrepresented groups including Indigenous, Black and brown, women, queer, transgender, non-binary, and people of all abilities.

In a statement addressing racial injustice in the profession, the Boston Society for Architecture charged architects and designers with understanding “the roles we play in perpetuating systems of oppression and, in doing so, committing ourselves to designing and building for equity. We must examine our responsibility to create lasting change. Our actions and inactions within systems, firms, and professional organizations contribute to the systemic inequities that continue to exist.”

Structural injustices and systemic inequities start at the policy level and pervade all aspects of the built environment through recurrent design. Planning, urban design, and development policies create our built environments, affect our natural ecological world, shape our communities, and impact our collective health. These deeply rooted problems undermine our efforts to create a better world, and they must be designed out.

Lasting change in our cities and the environment arises from, and depends on, the communities of the people who live there—especially those who have routinely been marginalized. How can design professionals partner with communities to create meaningful work that benefits those communities and address critical issues? How might design professionals engage in interdisciplinary collaborations to address the complexities at the intersections of identity, place, and environment—art, activism, law, economics, cultural anthropology, and politics?

Systemic inequities, racism, and climate change also undermine our public health. Marginalized communities are most vulnerable to toxic exposures, pollution, sea level rise, flooding, urban heat, and other consequences of climate change. How can design professionals redress the interrelationship of community, ecology, and health in order to provide opportunities for regenerative design to take root and flourish?

When we think about these social, environmental, and economic intersections, we must examine Boston’s history of big-planning moves to understand the city we have today. Last century’s ambitious land-making and urban planning resulted in the creation of places like the Emerald Necklace and the West End. These moves altered the fabric of the city and cultivated new environments, some of which are not accessible to all Bostonians. How should we re-examine Boston’s past social reforms and urban renewal programs with an equitable lens? What are the positive contributions we can learn from to help redress the consequences of displaced communities, embedded racism, sexism, and environmental degradation?