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Coming Soon: Harvard Design Magazine #50: Today’s Global explores how globalism has shaped the built environment in the 21st century

Figures walking around a desert landscape at the base of an abstract built structure.

Kiluanji Kia Henda, A City Called Mirage, 2014–2017. Featured in Diana L. Eck's "The World-Cities of the Global Age," from Harvard Design Magazine #50: Today's Global. Courtesy of the artist.

Is globalization the most powerful single force shaping the built environment today? Guest edited by Sarah M. Whiting and Rahul Mehrotra, Harvard Design Magazine 50: Today’s Global (launching in May 2022) considers the sustainability of contemporary architectural production and how design has the potential to advance a deeper and more productive discourse over globalization.

Modernity has entered a phase of critical backlash against globalization, which is for some a critique of international integration, for others a critique of global and local inequalities produced by neoliberal extremism, and for many, a shared global concern over climate change.

Over the past 50 years, advanced technology and the digital revolution have afforded architects and designers the ability to operate outside their own regions, customs, and cultures, at a scale and freedom that has not previously been realized. The resulting industry produces architectural commodities that increasingly dominate the built environment and promote the trend toward globalizing, consumerist cities. Globalization has not only shifted our perspective of the world, it has also transformed how architectural identity defines itself. Today’s Global enriches this dialogue and celebrates the emergence of new resources that have made broader global design talent more visible and rejects the stultifying categories—such as “first world” and “third world”—defined by contemporary boundaries.

In this issue, Sarah M. Whiting and Rahul Mehrotra have invited an international group of public intellectuals, critics, scholars, and practitioners in architecture, urban planning, landscape design, and the social sciences and humanities to offer in-depth analysis of the political, social, and economic forces that have shaped global architecture and design over the past 25 years.

Today’s Global features essays and conversations by distinguished contributors in their respective fields, which address the challenges and opportunities facing design thinking in a time of expanding globalization and shifting localities and regionalism. The issue concludes with a call-and-response segment, in which contributors respond to the provocative prompt: “What does it mean to be a global practitioner today?”

Harvard Design Magazine is an architecture and design magazine that probes at the reaches of design and its reciprocal influence on contemporary culture and life. Published twice a year and helmed by Editorial Director Julie Cirelli at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Harvard Design Magazine invites guest editors to consider design through an interdisciplinary lens, resulting in unique perspectives by an international group of architects, designers, students, academics, and artists. For current and back issues, as well as subscription information and stockists, visit the Harvard Design Magazine website.