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Edra45 New Orleans Track 07: Democratic Design Praxis With Community
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This track interrogates theories, methods and practices associated with the teaching and praxis of democratic design and planning with the objective of moving beyond disciplinary boundaries to imagine new practices that foster equitable place-based development.


Track Chairs: Mallika Bose, Paula Horrigan, Rula Awwad-Rafferty


Keywords: democratic design/planning, community engaged pedagogy, participatory action research, transdisciplinary practices

Today’s thrilling dynamics of societal and environmental change, on local and global scales, are profoundly and visibly altering and changing peoples’ relationship to their individual and collective heritage, landscapes, communities, values, identities and sense of agency and global well-being.  Diverse and disparate voices are demanding changes in the status quo along with radical rethinking of how we envision, safeguard and “build” the world around us.


EDRA45: Building with Change is about planning and designing places and the critical act and art of creating and choosing processes negotiated to reflect and support them.  For this track we invite you to consider the diversity of processes that best foster equitable, just, healthy and sustaining relationships between people and the places/communities where their lives unfold.


This track provides the forum for critical engagement and robust exchange between a wide cross-section of practitioners/academics/transdisciplinary scholars working with communities to affect change (public interest design, service-learning, participatory and community design, public art, performative theater, advocacy planning, etc.). We aim to explore, debate, imagine, and articulate major issues and critical junctures, and move our understanding of this important track forward. We anticipate roundtables, workshops and/or panels emerging around such topical clusters as:

  • Changing Positions: Designing/planning with community, moving beyond the boundaries of professional disciplines to working with people as active agents of change; fostering environmental/social/economic justice through engaged design/planning.
  • Supporting Change: Strategies for engaging trauma-conflict resolutions due to built environmental disturbance and upheaval; transcultural place-making; language of resilience and change.
  • Changing Pedagogies and Education for designers and planners: engaged teaching and research, service-learning, public-interest design, participatory action research, pedagogy-andragogy in the hands of communities.
  • Changing Research Processes that honor culture, community and place; oral narratives, historical memory and the arts in design/planning.

About the Track Chairs:

Mallika is an architect specializing in environment-behavior studies. She is an associate professor of landscape architecture at Penn State University. From 2008-2012 she served as the Director of the Hamer Center for Community Design at Penn State. Motivated by her interest in understanding how social structures are spatially embedded, she pursues research on built environment and active living/healthy eating, community engaged design, gender and development, and design/planning pedagogy.

Paula, an associate professor of landscape architecture, is dedicated to examining and fostering the theory and practice of place-based design through teaching, research and service. Participatory design, action-research and service-learning are guiding her Rust to Green NY Action Research Project, which aims to advance green narratives and urban resilience across scales in New York’s most at-risk cities. She is a co-leader of Erasing Boundaries--Supporting Communities: Interdisciplinary Service-Learning in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, and is co-editor of Service-Learning in Design and Planning: At the Boundary, published by New Village Press (2011).

Rula (Ph.D, EDRA, CELA, IDEC) is a professor of art and architecture at the University of Idaho. Building on her own interdisciplinary education and training, she engages interdisciplinary action-oriented curriculum and scholarship of outreach in interior design & architecture, integrated design/community design, humanities/social sciences, and landscape architecture and bioregional planning. Her focus is on memory & cultural landscapes, outreach/community place-making; spatial/social justice & cultural agency; transdisciplinary design pedagogy; and intersections of livable communities, security, identity, human rights, place and participation. 


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Phone: +1 (507) 339-4620


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