Pandemic Urbanism

A virtual symposium on COVID-19 and cities | May 29, 2020

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Symposium schedule


What does COVID-19 mean for city life? What are the implications of this pandemic for urban form, mobility, sociability, and politics?

In recent months, life in our cities has been radically transformed. The novel coronavirus pandemic has demanded cities’ urgent responses to the acute pains brought about by this crisis. Yet at the same time, the pandemic has merely revealed and intensified cities’ preexisting conditions of inequality, neglect, and discrimination — and so too their capacities for mutuality, resilience, and care. While the urban experience of COVID-19 is necessarily occupied with basic survival in the present tense, it also invites critical reflection on what our cities are and more hopeful reimaginings of what they could be.

In this spirit, this one-day online symposium brings together more than 50 academics, researchers, practitioners, and activists to share their thoughts on the emerging state of pandemic urbanism.

Opening Plenary: Writing the next chapter

Possibilities of the post-pandemic city

How can our urban narratives become more environmentally just, healthy, and inclusive? A discussion with:

Ann Forsyth


Ruth and Frank Stanton Professor of Urban Planning, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Trained in planning and architecture, Ann Forsyth works mainly on the social aspects of physical planning and urban development. The big issue behind her research and practice is how to make more sustainable and healthy cities. Forsyth’s current research focuses on developing healthier places in a suburbanizing world, with overlapping emphases on aging and planned communities. She has contributed to three main areas of research and practice: documenting and assessing innovative and high-density planning and design in suburban/metropolitan areas, evaluating and proposing how the physical environment can improve health, and examining how to connect research and practice.

Eric Klinenberg


Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science, New York University

Eric Klinenberg’s scholarly work highlights the ways in which the physical spaces where people interact facilitate trust, community-building, and the shaping of a democratic society. His research has also explored the phenomenon of solo living, the effects of climate change on the human experience, and the social dimensions of resilience. Klinenberg is the author of several books,including Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life (Crown,2018), and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2002).

Río Oxas


Co-founder, RAHOK: Race. Ancestors. Health. Outdoors. Knowledge.

Río Oxas is a national speaker, educator, consultant for equity and racial justice and a student of life and joy. Over the last twenty years Río has worked alongside Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities to advocate for mobility, food, racial, environmental, and health justice. They are the Co-founder of the family owned social enterprise RAHOK- Race. Ancestors. Health. Outdoors. Knowledge. RAHOK illuminates the interdependence of race, ancestral wisdom, health and the outdoors so that with love we may cultivate local ecosystems (neighborhoods) in which all beings experience care, compassion and connection.

See additional sessions and read presentation abstracts on the schedule.

Organized by current and recent University of Washington doctoral students, with support from the College of Built Environments, the PhD Program in the Built Environment and the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Urban Design and Planning.



Header image: Flickr user Nickolay Romensky