Detroit Mercy hosts global conference examining urban areas

September 25, 2019
An aerial shot of Detroit Mercy's McNichols Campus

Urban planners, designers, philosophers and other academics from around the world will visit Detroit when University of Detroit Mercy hosts “Philosophy of the City,” a global conference that examines cities through a variety of philosophical themes, on Oct. 3-5.

Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture and Department of Philosophy are sponsoring the conference in partnership with the Philosophy of the City Research Group, which hosts conferences across the world annually. The conference is free and open to the public.

“Philosophy of the City,” now in its seventh year, consists of three keynote events and 58 presentations, featuring speakers from across the world.

The conference starts Oct. 3 at Detroit Mercy’s McNichols Campus then shifts to Detroit Mercy’s Riverfront Campus Oct. 4-5.

“Most of the country lives in or near cities and demographers tell us that on a larger scale the world is becoming increasingly urban,” said David Koukal, professor of Philosophy at Detroit Mercy. “The city is going nowhere. We must seek to understand it.”

Philosophy of the City seeks to better understand urban areas by asking questions through philosophical and theoretical frameworks, Koukal said. 

The conference will explore a variety of topics and themes from “Housing Ethics” to “Dealing with Traffic and Transportation Problems.” One session features Koukal’s research abstract, titled “Detroit Bike City and the Reconstitution of Community.”

“Detroit and cities like it need philosophy to help negotiate the reinvention of their communities,” Koukal said of his research.

Michael D. Doan (Eastern Michigan University) and Diane Michelfelder (Macalester College) will deliver keynote presentations on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4, respectively. Paul B. Thompson (Michigan State University) and Samantha Noll (Washington State University) head a panel discussion on urban food justice on Oct. 5.

Koukal and Noah Resnick, professor and associate dean for Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture, lead the conference as local cohosts. Detroit Mercy’s College of Liberal Arts & Education, School of Law and Pamela Zarkowski, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, are providing additional funding and support for the conference.

Previous Philosophy of the City Research Group host sites include Bogota, Colombia; Porto, Portugal; San Francisco; and New York.


— By Ricky Lindsay. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.