Conferences & Organizations

Interested in learning more about socially engaged practice in your field? The organizations and conferences listed below bring together people working to address systemic challenges through art, architecture, and design.

If you are considering attending any of the conferences listed below, or if you would like to suggest additional resources for inclusion on this list, contact Liz Kramer at

Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru)
a2ru is a partnership of institutions committed to ensuring the greatest possible institutional support for the full spectrum of arts and arts-integrative research, curricula, programs, and creative practice for the benefit of all students and faculty at research universities and the communities they serve.
202 National Conference: October 15-17, 2020, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Arts in Society Knowledge Community
The Arts in Society Knowledge Community offers an interdisciplinary forum for discussion of the role of the arts in society. It is a place for critical engagement, examination, and experimentation, developing ideas that connect the arts to their contexts in the world – on stage, in studios and theaters, in classrooms, in museums and galleries, on the streets, and in communities.
2020 Conference: June 24-26, 2020, at NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland (Virtual Only)

Assembly is a co-authored social practice conference hosted by Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA faculty, students, alumni, and partners.
2020 Conference: June 5-7, 2020, at King School Museum of Contemporary Art, Portland, Oregon (presented online)

Association for Community Design (ACD)
ACD is a network of individuals, organizations, and institutions committed to increasing the capacity of planning and design professions to better serve communities.
2020 Annual Convening: June 25-27, 2020, in Portland, Oregon 

Black in Design (BiD)
The Black in Design Conference, organized by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design African American Student Union (GSD AASU) recognizes the contributions of the African diaspora to the design fields and promotes discourse around the agency of the design profession to address and dismantle the institutional barriers faced by our communities.

Better World by Design
Better World by Design is a student-led initiative at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design that facilitates collaboration between designers, educators, innovators, and students in an annual three-day conference.

Creative Ecosystems Conference
The Creative Ecosystems Conference is hosted by the Tom Tom Foundation. It brings together leaders and practitioners charting new models for creating art in small towns across the country, as well as exploring the civic partnerships necessary to support and empower creative innovators.
2020 Conference: September 25, 2020 in Charlottesville, Virginia

Design+Diversity Conference
The Design + Diversity conference explores proactive ways to make the design industry more diverse. This is the only conference that focuses on diversity issues in the design field.
2020 Conference: Online format, more information TBD.

Design Futures Public Interest Design Student Leadership Forum
The Design Futures Public Interest Design (PID) Student Leadership Forum is a five-day, interdisciplinary forum bringing together student leaders from across the country with practitioner- and university-faculty who represent some of the most important thought leadership in this emerging sub-discipline.
2020 Design Futures Student Leadership Forum: Postponed and transitioning to an online format Learn more>>

Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA)
EDRA is an international, interdisciplinary organization founded by design professionals, social scientists, students, educators, and facility managers that focuses on environmental design research.

Imagining America
The Imagining America consortium brings together scholars, artists, designers, humanists, and organizers to imagine, study, and enact a more just and liberatory ‘America’ and world.

Open Engagement
Open Engagement is an international conference and platform to support socially engaged art. The conference highlights the work of transdisciplinary artists, activists, students, scholars, community members, and organizations.

Service Design Network
Service Design Network is the global center for recognizing and promoting excellence in the field of service design. Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication, and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers.

Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Network
The SEED Network connects similarly minded members of the general public with designers from the fields of architecture, communication design, industrial design, landscape architecture, urban design, and urban planning who have an interest in community-based design practice.

Structures for Inclusion (SFI)
Hosted by Design Corps, SFI brings together and shares the best ideas and practices reaching those currently un-served by architecture.