Friday, March 28, 2014

GDNYU’s Cities and Citizenship Conference: Citizenship and Democracy in the “Green City”

By Carly A. Krakow

            What is the relationship between nature and the city? How are the bounds between a democratic, open-access approach to city development and an urban planning methodology that emphasizes expertise and extensive training negotiated? Is it possible to design spaces as realms of free speech and activism, or is the idea of “designed democracy” antithetical to spontaneous and genuine demonstrations of citizenship?

            These are just a few of the questions addressed at March 14th’s Cities and Citizenship conference, co-organized by Global Design NYU and Parsons the New School for Design as part of the Goethe-Institut’s Weltstadt project. The conference engaged with the ways in which the construction of the city is inextricably linked to the role of the citizen. Drawing on historical understandings of how urban centers have been both geographically and socially delimited, the conference sought to inspire an expanded understanding of the citizen’s role in shaping the 21st century “green city.”

            The panels, moderated by GDNYU co-directors Peder Anker, Louise Harpman, and Mitchell Joachim, and Ioanna Theocharopoulou of Parsons, addressed topics including the role of nature in the built environment; the relationship between designers, architects, activists, and social scientists during the era of globalization; the need for increased infrastructural strength in New York City in the age of global warming; and the function of building codes in the rapidly evolving urban environment. Panelists included Vyjayanthi Rao, Lynette Widder, Tyler Volk, Colin Jerolmack, Eric Sanderson, Miodrag Mitrasinovic, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Mariana Mogilevich, Eric Klinenberg, Stephen Duncombe, Andreas Kalyvas, Susanne Schindler, Victoria Marshall, and Susannah Drake.

            Stay tuned for an expanded version of our reflections on the conference, forthcoming in the Weltstadt newspaper!!!


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