The Critical Conversations Project is a series of thematic roundtable discussions conducted by the Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality Forum in partnership with the Center of Theological Inquiry. The goal is to broaden considerations of leading-edge issues of the built environment through incorporating spiritual perspectives. A multidisciplinary group of experts from architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, public interest design, material culture, theology, religious studies, psychology, anthropology, history, and environmental health will be convened in two live webinars, and four sessions conducted at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, NJ as a continuation of their Religion and the Built Environment theme year. Panelists will be tasked to address how the cultural, ethical, environmental, or transcendent aspects of the built environment may address contemporary challenges of globalization, urbanization, economic disparity, climate change, migratory pressures, political and religious radicalization, and disruptive technologies.

The Princeton sessions will be filmed and feature length and short videos produced. Digital proceedings of the findings of the conversations will also be created. All will be widely disseminated through a diversity of scholarly, professional, educational, and popular media.

First Conversations

Webinars | May 6 and 27, 2021

The Princeton Sessions

1 Cultural Consciousness | October 6 – 9, 2021

How may built environments sustain and regenerate diverse cultural heritages as well as advance identity, sense of belonging, and human development?


Sigurd Bergmann, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor, Religious Studies, Trondheim, Uppsala, Lund, Munich

Prem Chandavakar
Managing Partner, CnT Architects, Bangalore, India

Ted Jojola, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Director of the Indigenous Design + Planning Institute, School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico

Brent Rodriguez-Plate, Ph.D.
Associate Professor by Special Appointment, Hamilton College

Sue Ann Taylor, Ph.D.
Public Anthropologist in Residence, Department of Anthropology, American University, Washington, DC

2 Justice & Participation | December 9 – 11, 2021

How may built environments support equity and inclusion and encourage participatory and democratic decision-making processes?


Thomas Beaudoin, Ph.D.
Professor of Religion, Fordham University

Bryan Bell
Associate Professor, School of Architecture, North Carolina State University, Director of Design Corps

Karla Britton, Ph.D.
Professor of Art History, Dine College

Hazel Edwards, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Architecture, Howard University

Thomas Fisher
Professor and Director of the Minnesota Design Center, University of Minnesota.

3 Environmental Adaptation & Ecotechnology | February 10 – 12, 2022

How may sustainable built and natural ecosystems be in spiritual and material harmony with nature, the cosmos, and the resources of the earth?


Roberto Chiotti
Founding Partner, Larkin Architect Ltd, Toronto, Canada

Carl Elefante, FAIA, FAPT, LEED AP
Architect, 94th President, American Institute of Architects

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Partner, Duany Plater-Zyberk

John Spengler, Ph.D.
Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard University

4 Transcendent Human Habitats | April 21 – 23, 2022

How may holistic approaches and designs foster human well-being and spiritual growth and help evoke transcendent experiences?


Nader Ardalan
President, Ardalan Associates

Kevin Ladd, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social Psychology of Religion Lab, Department of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend

Juhani Pallasmaa
Emeritus Professor and Dean, School of Architecture, Helsinki University of Technology

Alberto Perez Gomez, Ph.D.
Saidye Rosner-Bronfman Chair in Architectural History and Theory Emeritus,School of Architecture, McGill University

Suchi Reddy
Principal: Reddymade Architecture and Design, New York, NY

Project Directors

Thomas Barrie, FAIA, DPACSA
Professor, School of Architecture, NC State University
Chair, Architecture, Culture and Spirituality Forum

Julio Bermudez, Ph.D., DPACSA
Professor and Director of the Cultural Studies and Sacred Space Graduate Concentration, School of Architecture and Planning, The Catholic University of America, President, Architecture, Culture and Spirituality Forum

Project Partner

William Storrar, Ph.D.
Director, Center of Theological Inquiry