About the Event


This conference aims to illuminate how the education of planners and the professional practice of planning can transcend the dominant racist influences in American society. While the aspirational principles espoused in the AICP Code of Ethics should guide planning education and practice, unrelenting social disparities reveal that planners have often perpetuated white privilege and the economic benefit of the few over the many.  To unpack the planning processes that created racist outcomes, each session engages with diverse scholars in planning and cognate disciplines with professional planners and leaders from communities adversely effected by past planning decisions.  We will explore how to revise contemporary practice, reject problematic planning tools, and propose new tools for planning for racial justice. The keynote speaker is Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, and American Studies, and the director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at CUNY Graduate Center. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean.


The goals of the conference include: 1) kick off a series of planning studios focused on planning for racial justice; 2) address the lack of people of color in planning, particularly in upstate NY as well as other non-major metropolitans in the NE and MW, and the lack of their perspectives in the cannon of planning theory/history; and 3) initiate conversation for the creation of a Center for Planning for Racial Justice at UAlbany. 

The Master of Regional Planning program in the Department of Geography and Planning at UAlbany has partnered with Arbor Hill Development Corporation for two upcoming studios: 1) Regarding transportation justice in school busing/walking in Arbor Hill, West Albany and the South End; and 2) The impact of vacant structures in Albany in these neighborhoods.  A third project on the horizon will suggest how planning curriculum can include more works and voices by people of color and expand pathways into the discipline and profession. The aim is to identify and publish compendium of resources to become part of the planning curriculum and a mid-term goal to create a supportive path for students of color from high school to urban studies and planning at UAlbany and onto the MRP here at UAlbany or another institution. 


The opening session will begin with Arlene Way (Executive Director, Arbor Hill Development Corporation) and Dr. David Lewis (UAlbany) discussing the partnership and forthcoming studios, followed by Professor Jared Enriquez (UAlbany) who will outline the conference agenda.  Tanya McGee (Chemung County Planning and Doctoral Candidate, Binghamton University) and Nasibah Elmi ( NYS Department of Environmental Conversation) will discuss the intersectionality of their work experience as female planners of color in upstate New York. Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore will keynote this session.  She will take the long broad view to illuminate the need for more planners of color, how planning has marginalized communities of color, and provide comprehensive view of what planning for racial justice should/could be. Most sessions/panels will be composed of an academic, practitioner, and community organizer (3-5 panelists for each). This structure emerged as the best to support the goals. The academic would frame the issue including how one or more of the projects addresses it and the tools currently in practice and their historical legacy, and suggest modifications to existing tools or propose entirely new tools. The practitioner would provide on the ground knowledge of how the tools are used and/or could be used differently. The community representative would discuss their experience of how this works in their community. Then open for Q&A. If panelists would like a moderator to introduce them, keep speakers on time, no problem.  Each panel will have at least one technical moderator to manage the chat, submitted questions, and if panelists desire the breakout rooms assignment etc.