International Symposium at Glastonbury Abbey and Harvard University Divinity School (June 6-9, 2013)
Sponsored by the Harvard University Divinity School, the Center for Health and Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health ,the Harvard
University Center for the Environment, the North Carolina State University School of Design, and the Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality
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General Information

If we instinctively seek a paradisiacal and special place on earth, it is because we know in our inmost hearts that the earth was given to us in order that we might find meaning, order, truth and salvation in it. (Thomas Merton)

The International Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well Being convened experts in the fields of architecture, landscape design, urbanism, religious studies, public health and other related disciplines to address leading-edge global culture and urbanism issues from contemplative, spiritual, philosophical, design and ethical perspectives. The 2 1/2 day program of scholarly presentations and panel discussions was sponsored by the Harvard University Divinity School, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health, The Harvard University Center for the Environment, North Carolina State University School of Design, and the Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality. The symposium topics included scholarship on the history of cities and architecture planned according to spiritual motivations or principles; the contemporary built urban environment and the plethora of forces that shape it; and the prospects of future urban life that nurtures meaningful, sustainable, and spiritually inspiring built environments and architecture.

How we draw from past and present contexts to cultivate new urban and architectural visions is an imperative that theologians, public health experts, architects and urban designers are well placed to address through philosophical, theoretical and practical considerations and contemplation. This international symposium focused on the history and potential of the city to spiritually uplift the human spirit, contextualize and symbolize our shared “human condition,” accommodate communal activities and rituals that give meaning to our lives, and provide connections to knowledge and understanding of the transcendent dimension of existence in architecture and the urban setting.

The USW Symposium took place June 6 – 9, 2013 at Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, Massachusetts & Harvard University Divinity School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality is an international scholarly environment established in 2007 to support architectural and interdisciplinary scholarship, research, practice, and education on the significance, experience and meaning of the built environment.