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Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis, “City of 7 Billion”

September 21, 2015 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

A Constructed World – J. Irwin Miller Symposium

The J. Irwin Miller Symposium, “A Constructed World,” is convened by Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis in conjunction with the exhibition, “City of 7 Billion,” at the Yale School of Architecture.  The philosopher and cultural critic, Peter Sloterdijk, will deliver the keynote address, and Hashim Sarkis, Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, will deliver the concluding address.

The world is constructed. It is the product of material realities, philosophical concepts, and imaginary ideals. No part of the world remains unaffected by the cumulative impact of human activity. Through complex processes of exploration, habitation, cultivation, transportation, consumption, and surveillance, the world has become increasingly interconnected. According to ongoing scientific research, the world appears to have crossed the threshold of a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. Scientists, geologists, and environmentalists acknowledge that humans are transforming the world at an unprecedented scale. This assertion begs the questions: How is the world constructed? What is the role of design?

The symposium will explore how the contemporary world is being constructed both physically and conceptually.  Leading voices from diverse fields such as architecture, anthropology, economics, geography, planning and philosophy will address how humans are playing an increasingly decisive role in shaping the world and interrogate the implications of these actions. Using terms of construction as a framework for discussion, panels will ask what it means to survey, excavate, demolish, scaffold, frame or assemble the world. This dialogue provides the opportunity to enrich our understanding of the world and establish common terms of engagement in relation to dramatically changing conditions. As crises and opportunities transcend both municipal and national borders, the need to operate at the scale of the world has never been more urgent.