Conor Macdonald


I’m interested in the impact of humanities-driven institutions on the shape, health, and prosperity of our cities and places. What is the role of a mission-driven organization in civic life, and what are the tools available to engage in it?

I’ve put more than a decade of work into organizations dedicated to pubic exploration of the intersections of history, arts, culture, and society, working with the Boston Society of Architects/AIA in a variety of roles for ten years, and for a year and a half with DESIGNxRI. I have seen people and organizations come together around these issues, and engage in dialogue--through projects, panels, ideas competitions, articles, exhibitions, festivals, and play. From these activities, a stronger sense of community and mutual understanding develops, more voices are heard, ideas are generated, and a stronger future emerges.

I believe that the humanities--and the organizations which promote them--play a critical role in citymaking. Through graduate study, I hope to broaden my understanding of the various approaches and models of the public humanities, explore historic, existing, and potential opportunities for humanities-led dialogues, and ultimately clarify pathways where organizations have supported their mission both programmatically and financially through citymaking.

I have served on the board of the Community Design Resource Center of Boston and the architecture festival Common Boston, was part of a winning team in the 2015/16 Mayor of Boston’s Department of New Urban Mechanics Public Space Invitational with the Tidraphone, a tidal vibraphone, which invited Bostonians to interact with the water via a playful musical experience that is dynamically affected by the daily tides (twitter: @tidraphone), and currently serve on the Building and Grounds committee of the Providence Athenaeum as well as the board of AIA Rhode Island.