The Urban Social – Alternatives to the Present: Designing the Built Environment as a Socio-Human Construct

Kent State University, Cleveland   

25-26 October 2018 

 Abstracts: 05 June 2018.  Download form



The New Urban Agenda of the United Nations presents itself as a blueprint for governments globally. Through it, UN-Habitat seeks to combine the material, social and environmental agendas molding the urban world. The American Planning Association reflects this, advocating for planning that promotes social equity, inclusive communities, and expanded opportunities for all. The International Union of Architects speaks of revolutionizing design to ensure sustainable human settlement, while the AIA champions livable communities. In the UK, the RIBA links housing design and social inclusion and the National Housing Federation connects the provision of homes to public health. All this reflects the field of sociology and geography with the ISA identifying cites as the principle site of social conflict and political contestation and the American Association of Geographers linking the notions of resilience and urban justice.

This apparently holistic view suggests that 20th Century top-down and disciplinary reductive understandings of the urban condition, such as those attributed to the Athens Charter, are a thing of the past. It also suggests a scenario in which social equity is fully integrated into notions of development. However, even a cursory glance at the reality of early 21st Century urbanism shows this is clearly not the case. On the one hand, individual disciplines still tend to work in isolation and even in competition, while on the other, Neoliberal agendas still represent the raison d’être of most development projects. This conference seeks to critique the dichotomies involved in this increasingly confused scenario by bringing together various disciplines to interrogate the diversity of factors either limiting or activating the possibilities of an equitable urban future.


Looking ahead:

In looking for interdisciplinary alternatives ahead the guiding assumptions of the conference, The Urban Social – Alternatives to the Present, are:

  1. That we have developed sophisticated understandings of city design and living in a multitude of discipline areas.
  2. That for these understandings to be developed further, we need to test the limits and potentialities of their theories and practices.
  3. That this process requires an expanded dialogue across disciplines if we are to fully develop our potential to foster positive change.


With this in mind, the conference seeks participation from across disciplines. Its themes are diverse and respond to multiple provocations, questions and areas of interest related to the urban condition broadly defined, as both a social and material construct.

For a more detailed framing of the concerns behind the call, its themes, areas of concern geographically, and examples of the questions it seeks to ask, see the full text of the call.



Using various discipline perspectives as broad strands, conference presentations will be organised in several sub themes. The result will be a coherent but varied conference. To make the event as inclusive as possible, delegates can attend in-person but can also avoid travel costs by making their presentation as a pre-recorded film. It will be permanently available via the AMPS Youtube channel. Alternatively, they can present virtually via skype. In all cases, written papers are also acceptable.

Possible Formats include:

Pre-recorded video (15-20 minutes)  |  Skype (15-20 minutes)  |  Conference Presentations (15-20 minutes)  |  Written Papers  (optional)  |  Exhibition via alternative formats considered


Key Dates: 

Abstracts (Round One): 05 June 2018  (Round Two: 20 Sept)  |  25 June 2017:  Abstract Feedback  |  01 July 2018:  Registration opens

25-26 Oct   2018.    Conference  

10 Jan 2019: Full Paper Submissions (where applicable)  | 10 March 2019: Feedback for publication  |  10 July 2019: Full Publication



Delegates are given the option to present their work at conference either with or without an accompanying full written paper. If written papers are submitted they should be 3000 word length. Formatting instructions will be available at the time of the conference. All papers are double blind peer reviewed and will be include in the AMPS conference proceedings series, ISSN 2398-9467.

Subject to review, selected authors will be invited to develop longer versions of their papers for inclusion in the book series and journals collaborating with PARADE (Publication & Research in Art, Architectures, Design and Environments). It involves the following publishers:

Routledge Taylor & Francis   UCL Press  |  Intellect Books  |  Libri Publishing  |  Vernon Press   Cambridge Scholars Publishing  |  Architecture_MPS journal.


Forms and Registration:

Delegate Fee: $250  (£200)

Download:  Abstract Submission Form 


Correctly formatted/named Abstract Submission Form:

Charlie_Smith_Yet Another Apartment Block_Cleveland

Please send this fully completed document to  |  The document must be in Microsoft Word.  |  Subject line for emails: Abstract Submission Cleveland  |  File name for attachment: Name_Surname_Summary Title_Cleveland  |  Example file name: Charlie_Smith_Yet Another Apartment Block_Cleveland

.For more details:




This event is organised by the Kent State University, College of Architecture & Environmental Design with the interdisciplinary research organisation AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society) and its academic journal Architecture_MPS. It forms part of the AMPS program of events and publications, PARADE

Image: MLive