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Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well-being: Contemporary Trends

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How does the design of contemporary cities support spiritual, physiological, and ecological well-being?

This event, the second in a series of three symposium meetings, featured the perspectives of UCLA-based public health expert and pediatrician Professor Richard Jackson in dialogue with Harvard Graduate School of Design’s own architect and urban theorist Professor Rahul Mehrotra.

Their conversation highlighted contemporary global trends in urbanism that support spiritual, physiological, and ecological well-being. Specific attention was paid to our relationship with the natural resources and environments—both ecological and social—that sustain us. Professor Jack Spengler, Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health, moderated the discussion.

Sponsored by the Urbanism, Spirituality, and Well-being Initiative, this spring 2013 symposium series convened three times to allow for in-depth discussion of this broad topic. Each meeting addressed one of three timeframes: past, present, and future. This series synthesized perspectives from various fields of design (including architecture, landscape design, and urban planning), religious studies, public health, and other related disciplines to address the ways in which the social and physical plan of cities—including parks and recreation areas—can support a vibrant spiritual life, physical and emotional well-being, and overall wellness in urban residents.

Speakers Included: 

Richard Jackson MD MPH HonAIA HonASLA
Professor/Chair, Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Rahul Mehrotra
Professor/Chair, Department of Urban Design and Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and
Principal, Rahul Mehrotra Associates

About the Urbanism, Spirituality, and Well-being Initiative

The Urbanism, Spirituality, and Well-being Initiative is a multi-year initiative supported by faculty and students from the Harvard Schools of Divinity, Public Health and Design. Their goal is to facilitate discussion and collaborative research that illuminates the contribution of design and planning to collective and individual well-being. They define well-being via an examination of the ways in which built and natural environments can support a vibrant spiritual life and psychosomatic health in urban residents.

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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