EDRA52 DETROIT: Just Environments

Claudia Bernasconi's picture
Call for Papers
May 19, 2021 to May 22, 2021
Michigan, United States
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Environmental History / Studies, Humanities, Social Sciences, Urban Design and Planning

Deadline for submissions of abstracts and papers: October 1st 2020

Deadline for poster submissions: November 10th 2020


JUST ENVIRONMENTS: Transdisciplinary Border Crossing

The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) invites practitioners, researchers, and educators to join us at the 52nd annual conference to collaboratively rethink how environmental research and practice may serve as a foundation for change and justice. EDRA52 will take place in Detroit, Michigan, UNESCO City of Design, and online through a hybrid format.

This call invites proposals that pursue border crossing as intentional questioning of disciplinary borders, inclusiveness, and sensitive approaches to framing and solving pressing contemporary problems through research and practice, addressing EDRA’s critical mission of social justice, sustainability, and the improvement of the quality of life for all people. The conference theme also speaks to contested issues related to physical borders, urban fragmentation and all types of exclusionary divides.

The conference will focus on how research, design, and relationships between people and environments contribute to the creation of justice. The world is in the middle of several global crises at once—of pandemic, overpolicing, racism, environmental degradation, economic and gender inequality—all of which together demand us to interrogate how we imagine just environments. To make environments just requires us to think about what goes into conceiving, creating, building, nurturing, and sustaining such an endeavor as we negotiate new ways of interacting in public space that itself has become contested and occupied by global protests. How we navigate spatial and ideological environments raises several questions: What makes a just environment in a world where democracy is under assault? What is the time and space of environments, and of justice? How can environments be integrated into the social world and values of freedom, equality and liberation be realized; what forecloses this possibility? What are the prospects for utopian imaginings in uncertain and revolutionary times?

The conference will provide a platform to explore issues of justice in the environment in relation to social, cultural, and economic sustainability; race and culture; education, workplace and recreation; youth and aging; health and wellness; equality in planning, policy making, and the design of public spaces; physical border conditions, urban fragmentation and divides; practices of inclusion and community engagement; intersections of justice and ecological sustainability; accessibility and mobility; environmental and community shared resources; pressing global displacement and migration issues; philosophical and ethical concerns; and the necessity of just social, built, and natural environments for a just future. 


EDRA52 invites proposals that both describe and speculate on transdisciplinary modes of inquiry using novel approaches in research, teaching, practice, and co-production to create “just environments.” Transdisciplinary methods are increasingly used to address challenges facing the globe, such as climate change, poverty, equitable development, that require both disciplinary and global border crossings. Transdisciplinary methods, by definition, require us to operate collectively at the boundary – facilitating the creation of “net new” methods and outcomes to create new knowledge and solutions to “wicked problems.” We invite proposals that address the hybrid nature, complexity, challenges and benefits, team collaboration, and dynamics of transdisciplinarity. We are especially interested in research and practice that embrace local contexts, are oriented toward action, and address contemporary societal problems by expanding disciplinary boundaries and identifying the new territories for design agency and action.


We invite submissions in one or more of the following topical areas/tracks:



    Submission types include: individual abstracts or full papers, group presentations (workshops, intensives, symposia, practitioner-researcher collaborations), and visual presentations (posters, digital media shorts).



    Contact Info: 

    Claudia Bernasconi, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, University of Detroit Mercy

    Tadd Heidgerken, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Detroit Mercy

    Contact Email: