Cfp AAG 2023 / Environment and Design in Times of Planetary Crises: Exploring Interdisciplinary Pathways and Potentials

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Environment and Design in Times of Planetary Crises: Exploring Interdisciplinary Pathways and Potentials
Call for papers

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, March 23-27, 2023, Denver, Colorado

Session Organizers:
Kevin Grove, Florida International University
Sandra Jasper, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Maroš Krivý, Canadian Centre for Architecture/Estonian Academy of Arts

As climate change impacts in cities around the world have revealed under-recognized socio-ecological vulnerabilities and the need for adaptive and radical responses, a growing number of architects, designers, and architectural historians have begun to revisit the relation between the built environment and the natural environment, and the role their disciplines have played in shaping and responding to current conditions. Critical scholars in these and related fields have drawn on radical, feminist, and decolonial thought to examine the role of architecture in the history of environmental thought and tensions between environmental design and environmental politics (Hutton 2019; Haffner 2021; Nolan 2021; Hochhäusl et al 2018), but also experimented with alternative practices of design oriented to the creation of socially and environmentally just futures (Boehnert 2018; Escobar 2018; Costanza-Chock 2020).

However, geographic engagement with these developments remains limited, which inhibits cross-disciplinary dialogue and reinforces a division between disciplines that study and reflect on evolving human-environment relations, and disciplines that experiment with and create new human-environment relations in the Anthropocene. What are the potentials and challenges for extending design thinking in geography? As research funders and practitioners alike increasingly call for interdisciplinarity and experimentation beyond academia, the lack of geographic engagement with design risks increased disciplinary marginalization, precisely at a moment of socio-ecological indeterminacy in which geographic thought – and its penchant for inventive scholarly bricolage (Larsen and Harrington, Jr. 2021) and positive syncretism (Castree 2016) – can play a decisive role in opening up new issues and responses for interdisciplinary research. What can geographers learn from the environmental turn in architectural history? How is this turn influenced by geographical ideas? An emphasis on environmental in/justice that political ecologists share with a new generation of architectural historians (Chang 2016; Cupers 2016; Ruiz 2021) and design practitioners (Goh 2021) suggests an alternative form of interdisciplinary dialogue that doesn’t align with systems-based and other technocratic forms of interdisciplinarity.

In this session, we seek to bring together geographers and scholars in related fields working on broadly-construed topics of environment and design in the Anthropocene. Our goal is to explore how geographers, and geography more generally, might engage with emerging cross-disciplinary interest on the relation between the built environment and natural environment, particularly (but not exclusively) within urban and urbanizing contexts. We are particularly interested in papers that engage with and explore emerging trends and dynamics in disciplines such as architecture, design, architectural history and design history, and seek to build bridges across disciplinary divisions to reimagine what interdisciplinary urban environmental research might become in the Anthropocene. Possible topics could include, but are not limited to, questions such as:

●       How is design transforming how we understand and intervene in urban environments?
●       What landscapes – social, environmental, cultural – do designerly practices create?
●       How have architects and other design professionals contributed to environmental justice and injustice?
●       What power relations have their interventions into urban environments enacted and/or challenged?
●       How does design thinking resonate with or differ from geographic research concerning their theories of knowledge, truth and practice?
●       What are other examples of socio-environmental inquiry where geographers have collaborated with architectural historians and other critical design scholars?

If interested, please submit 250-word abstracts by October 28 to Maroš Krivý (, Sandra Jasper (, and Kevin Grove (  We will notify you about participation in the session shortly after. Selected participants will then have to register and submit their abstracts to the AAG system by 10 November. We plan to accommodate both in-person and remote presenters, please indicate your preference.

Boehnert, J. (2018) Design, Ecology, Politics: Towards the Ecocene. London: Bloomsbury.
Castree, N. (2016) Geography and the new social contract for global change research. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41(3): 328–347.
Chang, J.-H. (2016) A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture. Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience. Abingdon, New York, NY: Routledge.
Costanza-Chock, S. (2020) Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Cupers, K. (2016) Bodenständigkeit: The Environmental Epistemology of Modernism. Journal of Architecture 21(8): 1226–1252.
Escobar, A. (2018) Designs for the Pluriverse Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. Durham: Duke University Press.
Goh, K. (2021) Form and Flow: The Spatial Politics of Urban Resilience and Climate Justice. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Haffner, J. (Ed.) (2021) Landscapes of Housing. Design and Planning in the History of Environmental Thought. Abingdon, New York, NY: Routledge.
Hochhäusl, S. et al. (2018) Architecture and the Environment. Architectural Histories 6(1): 20.
Hutton, J. (2019) Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements. Abingdon, New York, NY: Routledge.
Larsen T. and Harrington J. Jr (2021) Geographic thought and the Anthropocene: What geographers have said and have to say. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 111(3): 729–741.
Nolan, G. (2021) Savage Mind to Savage Machine: Racial Science and Twentieth-century Design. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Ruiz, R. (2021) Slow Disturbance. Infrastructural Mediation on the Settler Colonial Resource Frontier. Durham: Duke University Press.