Detroit Mercy, Wayne State co-hosting global conference exploring just environments

March 12, 2021
An aerial photograph of Detroit Mercy's McNichols Campus, with the downtown Detroit skyline visible in the background.

A graphic depicting the EDRA52 DETROIT conference, including the theme of just environments and the conference dates, May 19-23, 2021.Experts from around the world will explore how research, design and relationships between people and environments contribute to the creation of justice when University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University co-host the Environmental Design Research Association’s (EDRA) 52nd annual conference May 19-23, 2021.

Delivered in a virtual format, EDRA52 DETROIT will bring together professionals from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to examine topics surrounding the conference’s theme of just environments. The global conference features multiple keynote and plenary sessions, social and networking events, educational sessions, workshops and award ceremonies, as well as scholarship opportunities for students.

EDRA52 DETROIT’s theme of just environments was developed in December 2019 by faculty from Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture and Wayne State University’s College of Engineering.

“Nothing seemed more pressing than the issue of justice,” said Claudia Bernasconi, associate professor and director of the Master of Architecture program at Detroit Mercy. “Understanding that building justice requires collaborative efforts by people of different disciplines and professions, cultural backgrounds, racial and ethnic identities is at the core of the conference.”

“Attendees will learn that there is great collaboration among the Detroit urban universities, community groups, nonprofits and government organizations,” said Carol Miller, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of Healthy Urban Waters at Wayne State.

EDRA52 DETROIT keynote and plenary speakers will examine justice in the environment by looking at a variety of issues, including social, cultural and economic sustainability and equality in planning, policy making and public space design.

One plenary session, titled “Social Justice, Culture and Public Space: Transdisciplinary Perspectives,” will address how people can create a more socially just and culturally diverse public space. Additional speakers will be announced on the conference’s website in January.

Miller believes EDRA52 DETROIT will appeal to individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, beliefs and disciplines.

“EDRA52 DETROIT covers technical issues from engineering and science, as well as humanistic issues from psychology, communication and other research areas,” Miller said. “People generally enjoy expanding their range of colleagues and learning from others.”

An international, interdisciplinary organization, EDRA was founded in 1968 by design professionals, social scientists, students, educators and facility managers. EDRA52 DETROIT marks the first time EDRA’s annual conference will be hosted in Michigan.

The final date to register for the conference is March 31.

Learn more about EDRA and its memberships and register for EDRA52 DETROIT by visiting

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