Sarah Hollis

Throughout the years, the way Americans build and maintain cities has changed and adapted with the invention of new technology, changes in the environment and the demands of the people living in these cities. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Grand Valley State University community members will have the opportunity to hear more about the environmental sustainability of our communities, as well as the effects of race and class on how cities are planned and eventually built. 

Igor Vojnovic, a professor from Michigan State University and author, will be leading a discussion looking at how Michigan cities in particular have been an embodiment of these trends. The lecture is titled “Black Cities/White Suburbs: Shaping Michigan’s Urban and Suburban Landscapes of Inequity and Inequality.”

“I’m looking at issues of sustainability and how to build environmentally friendly, healthy communities, but it will have a racial and class dimension,” Vojnovic said. “I’ve done a whole series of articles showing the great extent race and class are critical for shaping the environmental outcomes of how cities are built.” 

Vojnovic believes these issues are important because cities’ efficiency and sustainability affects everyone, no matter what your career or major is. 

“These are topics that shape how we live, they shape everything around us, and we don’t consider them necessary on a day-to-day basis,” Vojnovic said. “But they’re fundamental to how we go and eat, how we go and buy food, how healthy we are. Building cities that are more cost effective, building cities that use fewer resources, building cities that can generate fewer heat and emission stains is in all of our interests. 

“As of 2007, more than half the global population lives in urban areas, so most of our problems are likely going to be urban in nature.” 

The lecture will be held in the Pere Marquette room (2204) in the Kirkhof Center from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10. GVSU students and faculty can RSVP for discussion online on the GVSU events page. This lecture is based off of Vojnovic’s book, “Urban Sustainability: A Global Perspective.” 

“Whether it’s in the U.S. or not, you have to deal with urban pressures, health pressures and environmental pressures,” Vojnovic said. “They’re all inter-related. Just this morning we got an article accepted in an epidemiology journal. It’s also fundamental in planning and design in this broader environmental impact, because anyone from Detroit that wants to get food from the inner city has to travel miles to get out into the suburb as the closest point to access food. They’re all inter-related.”