UCĀ²: University Community Conversation

"I want to go to there": Utopian Thinking and City Planning

An image of a park in Buenos Aires.“I want to go to there”: Utopian Thinking and City Planning

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This moderated panel discussion brought together academic ideas about utopian thought with the perspectives of people with city-planning experience. Bringing into conversation two such potentially opposing worldviews—idealism versus pragmatism, impossible perfection versus the messy realities of politics—sparked conversation about the extent to which ideals can or should inform real-world efforts to shape a city. The three utopian texts that were considered as part of the history of utopian thought were Plato’s Republic, Thomas More’s Utopia, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland.

An image of a map from Thomas More's Utopia.Moderator:
Elliot Bartky, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, IPFW 

Constance M. Furey, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington
Thomas Hey, Limited Term Lecturer, Department of Political Science, IPFW
Elias Samaan, A&Z Engineering, Fort Wayne, IN
John Stafford, Director, Community Research Institute, IPFW

Panelist Bios:

Constance M. Furey is a scholar of Renaissance and Reformation Christianity, interested especially in the emergence of new types of religious and intellectual communities. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Chicago, she has written on religious humanism in her first book, Erasmus, Contarini, and the Religious Republic of Letters (2006), and on the intertwining of friendship and utopian thought in early modern England. Her current book project focuses on how devotional poetry in the English Renaissance re-imagined intimate relationships as sites of utopian longing and fulfillment.

Tom Hey is a limited-term lecturer in political science at IPFW. He teaches the course “Utopias as Political Thought” and has researched the ways science fiction writing shapes scientific research.

Elias Samaan is currently senior transportation consultant for A&Z Engineering in Fort Wayne. Previous positions include work with the Indiana State Highway Commission and GAI Consultants, and a thirty-year stint as executive director of the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council. He specializes in transportation and community development planning, particularly acquiring federal and state funds for transportation and community development projects.

John R. Stafford joined IPFW as director of the Community Research Institute in 2003 after serving Fort Wayne and Allen County for over thirty-five years in various capacities, including director of strategic planning, chief of staff, director of economic development, and director of long-range planning and zoning. He also worked with the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Sagamore Associates, and the Economic Development Alliance.