Detroit Mercy and Wayne State to Host Conference on Just Environments

The Environmental Design Research Association’s spring conference will be a five-day virtual event
EDRA52 - just environments
The Environmental Design Research Association’s upcoming virtual conference on just environments is co-hosted by the University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University. // Graphic courtesy of Detroit Mercy

The University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University are coming together to co-host the Environmental Design Research Association’s 52nd annual conference this spring. The virtual five-day event for the international organization is called Just Environments: Transdisciplinary Border Crossings and will explore topics such as building just communities, creating just societies, supporting just movements, and designing just places. 


Held from May 19-23, the conference is geared toward researchers, practitioners, and educators, but event organizers believe it will appeal to individuals from a range of backgrounds. The theme for the conference is “just environments” and it was created by faculty at Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture and Wayne State’s College of Engineering.  


“Nothing seemed more pressing than the issue of justice,” says Claudia Bernasconi, associate professor and director of the Master of Architecture program at Detroit Mercy and conference chair for EDRA52 Detroit. “Understanding that building justice requires collaborative efforts by people of different disciplines and professions, cultural backgrounds, racial and ethnic identities is at the core of the conference. EDRA52 Detroit is about the importance of healthy, equitable environments and a good quality life for all people, and about the duty we have to come together to recognize injustice and to strategize and embrace new approaches for promoting justice.”

Toni L. Griffin and Justin Garret Moore will serve as keynote speakers for the conference. // Graphic courtesy of Detroit Mercy

The event features social and networking events, education sessions, workshops, award ceremonies, scholarship opportunities for students, and virtual mobile sessions that provide attendees with a tour of Detroit, an overview of community projects in the city, and information about local social justice groups.


The conference will also feature plenary discussions, including a conversation with Sharon Egretta Sutton, an architect, environmental psychologist, and visiting distinguished professor of architecture at Parsons School of Design; Lauren Hood, a Detroit native, urban planner, and MLK visiting scholar at MIT Urban Studies; and Garnette Cadogan, a writer, journalist, and founder of the Institute for AfroUrbanism. The trio will discuss how the legacy of racism continues to affect cities.


Toni L. Griffin, the founder of UrbanAC, a New York planning and design management firm, will present EDRA52 Detroit’s opening keynote, while Justin Garret Moore, a transdisciplinary designer and urbanist who serves as the program officer for the Humanities in Place program at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will present the conference’s closing keynote.


Ticket prices for EDRA52 Detroit vary on membership status with the Environmental Design Research Association, student status, and other factors. One-day registration for the conference ranges from $100-$300, and full conference registration ranges from $120-$550 — those who register for the full conference by March 8 receive a 20 percent early-bird discount. 


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