Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well-being: Historical Precedents

How can a city's social and physical plan support spirituality and well-being?

This symposium brought together participants 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.

Sponsored by the Urbanism, Spirituality, and Well-being Initiative
, this symposium convened three separate times to create a symposia series, and allow for in-depth discussion of this broad topic. Each meeting addressed one of three timeframes: past, present, and future. Our first session, “Historical Precedents,” focused on the history of cities that were planned with spiritual well-being and environmental sustainability in mind. This was followed by symposia titled “Contemporary Trends” and "Future Urbanisms."

Speakers included:

Ahmed Ragab
Assistant Professor of Science and Religion, Harvard Divinity School

Alex Krieger
Professor in Practice of Urban Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Davíd Carrasco
Professor of the Study of Latin America, Harvard Divinity School

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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