Geographer David Lowenthal, the renowned and prolific writer on nostalgia, heritage, and concepts of the past and future, has focused his work on landscape and the built environment as palimpsests of cultural attitudes toward history. Lowenthal taught landscape history and studied urban environmental perception at the Harvard GSD between 1966 and 1969, is the recipient of many prestigious awards and prizes, and a professor emeritus of the Department of Geography, University College London. A successor to his seminal work The Past is a Foreign Country (1985) is due in print early next year (The Past is a Foreign Country—Revisited, Cambridge, 2015). In the new edition, Lowenthal revisits how we celebrate, expunge, contest and domesticate the past to serve present needs. Susan Nigra Snyder and George Thomas, co-coordinators of the Harvard GSD’s program in Critical Conservation, along with PhD candidate Natalia Escobar Castrillón, will host the event on behalf of the program.

Critical Conservation is one of eight concentration areas reflecting current themes of design and innovation within the Master in Design Studies (MDes) degree program. Seeking to empower the next generation of designers, planners, real estate professionals, and a diverse range of other candidates, the Critical Conservation concentration provides a foundation for understanding the cultural systems that frame conflicts inherent in the transformation of places over time. It investigates the tension between progress and tradition, permanence and obsolescence, to explore the social, political, and cultural dimensions of conservation.


Harvard Graduate School of Design, MDes Critical Conservation presents David Lowenthal