The Shift: Public Space

05/05 Tuesday | 5pm

You can watch The Public Space episode here.

This event is a virtual panel discussion that will be live-streamed via Youtube & Twitter
Guests can pose questions via Twitter

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, Civic Signals, The Social Science Research Council, and The Knight Foundation invite you to a discussion on public spaces in the series on “The Shift,” featuring Eric Klinenberg, Toni Griffin, Chelina Odbert, Tony Ageh, Eli Pariser, and Mona Sloane. In the first episode, this series will examine how we develop digital forms of public space as much of our social life moves online, and how this shifts our sense of community. What is the role of public space in society? What can public space do (and not do)? What do we lose when we lose physical public space, and how do people make up for that in the digital realm? The discussion will address these questions by exploring how vital public spaces are enacted virtually – such as the library, the park, the street -, looking at what makes these spaces civically useful in both their physical and their digital form, and asking what we can and must learn from this for a post-COVID-19 world.

Eric Klinenberg is Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life (Crown, 2018), Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (The Penguin Press, 2012), Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2002), as well as the editor of Cultural Production in a Digital Age, co-editor of Antidemocracy in America (Columbia University Press, 2019), and co-author, with Aziz Ansari, of the New York Times #1 bestseller Modern Romance (The Penguin Press, 2015). His scholarly work has been published in journals including the American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, and Ethnography, and he has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and This American Life.

Toni L. Griffin is the founder of Urban Planning and Design for the American City, based in New York.  Through the practice, Toni served as Project Director the long range planning initiative of the Detroit Work Project, and in 2013 completed and released Detroit Future City, a comprehensive citywide framework plan for urban transformation. Most recent clients include working with the cities of Memphis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Griffin was recently a Professor of Architecture and the founding Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York.

Chelina Odbert is Co-founder and Executive Director of Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), a nonprofit design practice that partners with low income communities to improve physical, economic, and social quality of life through low-cost, high-impact design interventions. Since 2006, she has worked with community members in the slum of Kibera, Nairobi to design and implement a network of “Productive Public Spaces” — transformed waste spaces that link physical upgrading to micro-enterprise and community development. The Productive Public Space Network has won numerous awards including Van Alen Institute’s New York Prize for Public Architecture.

Tony Ageh is The New York Public Library’s Chief Digital Officer, responsible for the institution’s ongoing digital transformation and its visionary work in making its collections and services as accessible as possible. Ageh comes to the Library from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London where he held a variety of leadership positions since 2002 and managed over 300 staff members. His accomplishments include the development and implementation of the BBC’s internet strategy, which grew its web traffic from 2 million users per day to over 25 million over a five-year period, and the creation and implementation of the BBC iPlayer (an internet streaming catch-up television and radio service for people in the United Kingdom), which has delivered over 10 billion programs to the British public and on average receives 10 million requests per day.

Eli Pariser is an author, activist, and entrepreneur focused on how to make technology and media serve democracy. Pariser became executive director of in 2004, where he helped pioneer the practice of online citizen engagement. Pariser is also the co-founder of Upworthy, a website for meaningful viral content, and Avaaz, a large, global citizen’s organization. Pariser bestselling book, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, introduced the term “filter bubble” to the lexicon. Pariser is currently an Omidyar Fellow at the New America and co-directs the Civic Signals project at the National Conference on Citizenship.

Mona Sloane is a sociologist working on inequality in the context of AI design and policy.  She frequently publishes and speaks about AI, ethics, equitability and policy in a global context. Mona is a Future Imagination Collaboratory (FIC) Fellow, as well as a Fellow with NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology. She also holds fellowships with NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK) and The GovLab in New York. Mona teaches at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and at IPK, she founded and convenes the ‘Co-Opting AI’ series. Mona also curates the ‘Co-Opting AI’ section on Public Books. Mona holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has completed fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter @mona_sloane.


Supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation



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