The University of Maryland's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Student Advisory Board is hosting their first Open Dialogue discussion — created by students for students. It will kick off with an opening reception at 5:30pm on Wednesday, May 12 in the Architecture Building Auditorium, and the event begins at 6:15pm. The panelists will be Crispin Sartwell and Harvey Molotch. This blog is intended to facilitate discussion among students and faculty about the Future of American Urbanism before the event. We hope you will contribute to this dialogue both on the blog, and at the event! We look forward to you joining us.

Open Dialogue Flyer

Open Dialogue Flyer
Open Dialogue Flyer

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Panelists

Crispin Sartwell is Associate Professor of Art History, Philosophy, and Political Science at Dickinson College inCarlisle, PA. He's the author of a number of books, including Six Names of Beauty (Routledge, 2004), Act Like You Know: African-American Autobiography and White Identity (University of Chicago Press, 1998), and Political Aesthetics (due in July from Cornell). He is formerly a weekly syndicated columnist whose work appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Inquirer and has contributed essays to NPR, Harper's Magazine, theWashington Post and others. He is currently teaching a course on hip hop music. He lives in rural Pennsylvania, where he gardens, takes care of children, and pretends to be Henry David Thoreau.

Harvey Molotch is Professor of Sociology and Metropolitan Studies at New York University where he conducts research on issues of city growth and urban security as well as on product design and development. He has also researched issues in news media, the sociology of art, neighborhood racial integration, and the sociology of the environment. His books include Urban Fortunes (with John Logan) and Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers, and Many Other Things Come to Be As They Are. His awards include Distinguished Contribution to the Discipline of Sociology, Award for Lifetime Achievement in Urban and Community Studies, Award for Career Achievement in the Sociology of Environment and Technology (Buttel Award) and Outstanding Scholarly Publication in Urban and Community Studies (Robert Park Award).Before coming to NYU, he was Visiting Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics, Chair of Sociology and Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara as well as visiting professor at Northwestern University, University of Essex, Lund University, and SUNY Stony Brook.

So what is this event, anyway?

The Student Advisory Board wants this event to be unique and participatory - a true dialogue.

Generally, the event is different from the usual kind of lecture. Unlike a lecture, where one person speaks and students may ask a couple of questions afterwards, we would like the event to be more interactive - dialogue between the speakers and the audience. The Student Advisory Board has authored several questions to be forwarded to the speakers. These questions, related to their fields of expertise and urban issues, will be complemented by questions from the audience throughout the Dialogue. At the actual event, the speakers would express their attitudes, opinions and recommendations concerning the various questions. Throughout the event, the audience is encouraged to participate, follow up and pose further questions. We hope this blog will facilitate participation in the event, so we will be posting the panelist's bios, examples of their work, and our official questions for the panelists. Please feel free to contribute!

Questions for the Panelists

Here is the list of official questions for the panelists, which they will come prepared to answer. What do you think? Also, feel free to contribute other questions for the panelists in the comments section.

1. Both of you explore the relationship between public policy and political ideology and the built environment. Can you each describe what your ideal political condition would be and how might that situation impact urban planning and design? How does this differ from where you feel the U.S. is moving in terms of its architecture and urban design?

2. “Growth” and “Change” are hot potatoes in the discussion of urban development and planning – endorsed by some, dreaded by many. What is your viewpoint on these terms and who are the opposing actors? Do you think people’s perceptions and attitudes have changed during the last decades?

3. Both of you speak of the power of the state and government to impact the built environment. How do you think September 11th has impacted the American built environment? What are the implications for urban settings in war times generally?

4. Richard Sennett (1971) argues that in urban settings, zoning and other land use controls used by the local government prevent people who are different from one another confronting and working through that difference and thus reaching understanding and compromise. Do you agree with this notion? Why or why not?

5. Almost two hundred years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville stated in Democracy in America that individualism saps the virtues of public life. Do you think this is still true? How does individualism compared to collectivism affect the built environment and its use? Can good cities be built on individualism and the freedoms that come with it?