Conference to examine ‘Justice and the American Metropolis’

Putting questions of justice in the foreground of debates about American urban and suburban politics is the goal of an academic conference Friday and Saturday, May 8 and 9, in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

Titled “Justice and the American Metropolis,” the conference is designed to foster interaction between political theorists who study justice and equality and empirical scholars who study historical, legal and political aspects of urban life.

Conference organizers Clarissa Hayward, Ph.D., associate professor of political science in Arts & Sciences, and Todd Swanstrom, Ph.D., an urbanist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, plan to publish papers presented at the meeting in an edited volume offering the best of normative and empirical work on power and justice in the contemporary city.

“The goal of both the conference and the volume is to put questions of justice and fairness back in the foreground of urban policy debates in this country,” Hayward said. “Forty years ago, grassroots organizers, political leaders and city planners debating urban issues were motivated by a vision of a more just and egalitarian city. Today, our urban policy debates are driven almost exclusively by economic considerations: by concerns about efficient production and service provision, and competitiveness in an increasingly globalized economy. We want to help shift the terms of that debate.”

Thirty renowned scholars will participate in this event, including Harvard philosopher Tommie Shelby, Ph.D.; Princeton political theorist Stephen Macedo, Ph.D.; Stanford legal theorist Richard Thompson Ford, J.D.; Harvard urbanist Susan Fainstein, Ph.D.; and Yale political scientist Douglas Rae, Ph.D.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Political Theory Research Group, the Center for New Institutional Social Sciences, the American Culture Studies Program and the Center for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, all at Washington University. It is co-hosted by the Washington University Political Theory Research Group and the Des Lee Collaborative Vision at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The sessions, which run from 9:15 a.m.-5:30 p.m. May 8 and from 9:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. May 9, are free and open to the public.

For more information, including a detailed agenda of panel topics and speakers, visit