Student-run HOPES conference to bring ecological designers, scholars, writers

The Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability (HOPES) conference, an annual gathering hosted each spring term by the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts, is one of the only student-run sustainability conferences in the United States.

HOPES bannerThe event features lectures, panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, and nightly mixers. It is free and open to the UO community as well as the general public.

This year’s theme, displacement, will focus the gathering on design solutions to contemporary social and environmental problems.

“After discussing the concepts of movement, shift, and migration, we eventually settled on displacement because it has compelling spatial, temporal, and cultural implications,” explained Julia Frost, student coordinator for this year’s HOPES conference. “We are also interested in the causes, effects, and voids resulting from these actions.”

Students from various programs within A&AA—including architecture, landscape architecture, product design, planning, and art and technology—have a hand in coordinating the conference, as well as students from other UO programs including journalism, finance, environmental science, and law.

Student coordinator Will Talbot, an architecture undergraduate, noted the organizers’ desire to recruit students from all across campus to help plan the conference.

“We’re talking about bringing people from sociology, philosophy, and environmental sciences,” Talbot stated on the Humans of HOPES website. “This is an issue that goes beyond design. Displacement is a topic that involves everyone. That’s something that HOPES has always been an ambassador of: collaboration between multiple disciplines.”

Speakers at this year’s conference include:

  • James Cassidy, senior instructor of soil physics and organic agriculture at Oregon State University.
  • Emma Marris, environmental writer based in Klamath Falls and staff writer for the international journal Nature.
  • Karen M’Closkey, associate professor of landscape architecture at Pennsylvania State University and founding partner of PEG Office.
  • Gena Wirth, design principal at SCAPE, a landscape architecture studio based in New York City.
  • Andrew Cusack, UO architecture alumnus and senior policy officer at the United Nations Refugee Agency.
  • Aaron Huey, National Geographic photojournalist and contributing editor to Harper’s.
  • Miho Mazeereuw, director of the Urban Risk Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

HOPES attendees can use a conference punch card to earn free merchandise. Students can earn punches by attending lectures, panels, and workshops. Four or more stamps earn the card-holder a free T-shirt.

For more information about the conference, visit or email Megan Little.

This event is sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon and the UO Student Sustainability Center.