Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture course Inclusive Placemaking & Planning for Equitable Cities seeks applications

October 07, 2019

Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture in partnership with the Community Development Advocates of Detroit and the Knight Foundation will offer an exclusive course titled “Inclusive Placemaking & Planning for Equitable Cities” this fall. The course runs three full days on Nov. 1, Nov. 2 and Dec. 2, 2019, with a corresponding online component. The application deadline is Oct. 24.

This unique course is designed by Jay Pitter, MES, an award-winning placemaker and author whose practice mitigates growing divides in urban centers. She spearheads institutional city-building projects, rooted in neighborhood knowledge, focused on cultural heritage interpretive planning, gender-based mapping, inclusive public engagement, mobility equity and healing fraught sites. Local experts will also join her in presenting this three-day intensive program.

Detroit is in the midst of experiencing a major resurgence. With the city’s bankruptcy behind it, arrival of newcomers, investment in neighborhoods such as Northwest Detroit and major development like Corktown’s Ford Motor Company mobility campus, the city has garnered national and international attention in the media.

The Inclusive Placemaking and Planning for Equitable Cities intensive free certificate course provides urban design and community development students, city-building professionals and individuals working in grassroots environments an opportunity to explore theoretical concepts, policy levers and practical case studies to help them engage more effectively with the urban growth process.

The learning objectives of this exclusive course are as follows:

  • Explore socio-spatial and human geography theory to critically review Black people’s contributions, challenges and erasure across North American cities; 

  • Explore social, political and policy levers that promote “equitable diversity”—beyond representation and cultural extraction—during the transformation of cities; 

  • Critically appraise how urban development policies, engagement processes, and priorities impact Detroit’s majority Black communities and other equity-seeking groups including other communities of color, Indigenous peoples, LGBT+ communities, women, children, elders, etc.; 

  • Explore how urban landscapes and their symbolism can promote healing, belonging, and agency for communities historically excluded from urban development processes; 

  • Unpack key land-use concepts and public engagement approaches to create greater opportunities for long-time Detroiters to not simply participate in but co-create the city;
  • Explore the important role of cultural heritage and place-based narrative in shaping major urban development projects such as transit-oriented affordable housing, greenspace, and cultural hubs; and
  • Using Detroit-based case studies to celebrate and begin to codify proven approaches. 

“As Detroit continues to move into the future, we need to envision this future as a place that celebrates long-standing residents as well as welcomes newcomers,” said Dan Pitera, FAIA and dean with the Detroit Mercy School of Architecture. “The design of our communities is a social justice issue which by its very nature touches every human being. Jay Pitter’s course ‘Inclusive Place making and Planning for Equitable Cities’ offers us not just a glimpse of what this vision could be in the future, but how we can get there. The Detroit Mercy School of Architecture is thrilled to co-host this essential and urgent topic.”

For more information about this event and to download an application, please visit