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PhD Symposium

Place, Space, and Belonging

Friday, May 19, 2023
9:00AM-5:00PM in Gould Court or Virtually

RSVP for the Symposium

Attend the PHD Symposium in person or virtually. Topics include: Phenomenology, Environment, Transportation, Housing, Trauma Design, and more.


After the Symposium, join us for an event honoring Dr. Bob Mugerauer in Gould Court.

Accessible Accordion

Opening : Belonging, Equity and Inclusion:
9:00 – 10:15am

Description: Belonging, equity, and inclusion are fundamental principles in the built environment. As architects and designers, we are responsible for creating spaces that promote a sense of belonging for all individuals, regardless of their background, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or ability. To achieve this, we must incorporate equity and inclusion into every aspect of our work, from the initial design concept to the final construction phase. Designing with a focus on belonging means creating spaces that are welcoming, comfortable, and accessible to everyone. This involves considering the needs and preferences of diverse populations, such as those with disabilities or those from different cultural backgrounds. It also consists in creating spaces that foster a sense of community and promote social interaction, which can lead to a greater understanding of belonging for individuals. By incorporating these principles into our work, we can create spaces that promote a sense of belonging, equity, and inclusion for all individuals. This not only benefits the individuals who occupy these spaces, but also contributes to the greater good of society as a whole. In this session, we will hear from scholars who have researched and understood these principles.

Climate Justice
10:30am – 11:45am

Description: The adverse impacts of climate change on our environment and society are becoming more evident and severe over time. These impacts are varied and unequal and need to be accounted for when planning and developing our built environment. Climate justice is a growing movement that addresses the need for equity in developing a sustainable future that is resilient to the impacts of climate change. In this session, we will hear from scholars who focus on issues such as gentrification due to climate change or policy responses and fair sustainable development to address the impacts of climate change.

Community and the New Normal
12:00 – 1:35 pm

Description: Humankind recently lived through a pandemic that has propelled changes in our behavior, lifestyles, and work. Communities have already adapted, or are preparing to adapt, their systems to these changes. The post-pandemic world presents an opportunity to embrace change and future uncertainties to develop resilience. It also allows us to reflect on issues of inequity in our built environment, which were evident during the course of the pandemic, in terms of its inability to address the needs of different population groups. During this session, scholars will present their research concerning changes that have occurred in our living, working and commuting patterns post-pandemic. They will also discuss the persistence of long-standing inequalities in urban development that require attention

Housing Belonging and Dispossession
1:50 – 3:00 pm

Description: Housing is not only a “place of great importance”, but is a determinant of mental and physical health and  a base for social connection.  Housing is also the nexus for political and economic systems, physical space and one’s socioeconomic position.  This session on housing with scholars from urban planning and psychology, explores the growing conflict, politics and economy around home “places”,  and why dispossession and the loss of home affects us so deeply.

Closing Plenary: Sense of Place/Phenomenology
3:20 – 5:00 pm

Description: The sense of place is a concept that has been discussed by philosophers, geographers, and sociologists for decades. It refers to the emotional and psychological connections that individuals or groups have with their surroundings. This sense of place is often tied to personal memories, experiences, and social practices and can shape our understanding and interactions with the world around us. On the other hand, a phenomenology is a philosophical approach that describes the essential structures of human experience. In place studies, phenomenological approaches aim to capture the ways in which individuals experience and relate to their environment and how this experience can shape their sense of place. This plenary session invites leading scholars to offer their unique perspectives on the concept of a sense of place and the phenomenological approaches to place studies.

Dr. Bob Mugerauer Memorial Event
5:00 – 8:00 pm

Reception: Veggie Tray, Mediterranean Pita Bar, Empanadas, Tandoori Style Roasted Chicken Skewers, Vegetarian Egg Rolls, Deviled Eggs, Spring Rolls, and Fruit Tarts.

Professor Mugerauer, or Dr. Bob as he liked to be called, served as the Dean of the College of Built Environments from 2000 to 2006 and held joint appointments in the Department of Urban Design and Planning and the Department of Architecture. Dr. Bob believed in his students’ ability to make the world a better place. His passion and commitment to equity and justice lives on in those he taught and worked with.

Learn More

All gifts to the Dr. Bob Memorial Endowed Fund provide broad-based support for the BE-PhD program in the College of Built Environments. Please join us in honoring Dr. Bob and his many contributions to the program he founded by making a gift in his memory.

If you have questions or would like more information, please connect with Savannah Ledgerwood, Associate Director for Advancement at or 206-221-4027.

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