Preservation Futures: Society featuring Prof Kim Bowes

Thursday, November 16, 2023 - 12:00pm

This roundtable will take up the question of historic preservation’s contribution to and engagement with broader societal issues and needs. We seek to understand the ways in which preservation draws on the knowledge, insights, and ideas generated by social scientists – and how the preservation field connects our understanding of social histories (from the ancient to the recent past) to contemporary social reform. Furthermore, we hope to contemplate ways that preservation can be used as a tool of social, racial, and economic justice. What are the possibilities for preservation to serve as a means of structural redress from past inequities and erasures as well as policies such as redlining, urban renewal, and highway construction in the urban and built environment?

Preservation Futures is an initiative of the Stuart Weitzman School of Design Department of Historic Preservation aiming to build an understanding of how the preservation field has changed – and is changing – in light of urgent calls for social and environmental justice and  better science. The professional foundations of the historic preservation field reflect the very different times in which they were laid down. Dramatic upheavals in global society have been met with incremental changes in preservation policy and practice. What kind of preservation field is needed by contemporary societies? What will future societies demand? Facing enormous existential and practical challenges, we wish to reconsider the nature of preservation as a cognate field of study and practice, and its role in intellectually, politically, and practically shaping built environments. Building on the growing discourse around preservation and heritage futures, the PF Roundtables explore the direction of our department in light of these conversations. We invite discussion and debate that is multi-disciplinary, multi-generational, inclusive, intellectually serious, and practically responsible.