As part of the Humphrey School’s Summer Seminar Series, this panel brings together academic and practitioner voices to consider how urban planning practice, advocacy, and pedagogy may be re-imagined through a social justice approach in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the ongoing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both events underline the historical legacies of urban planning as an instrument of racial power shaping contemporary disparities in Minneapolis. But how can urban planning be re-imagined in the “new normal” to establish an intentional commitment with the city and its people? Is equity enough? And what are the emergent questions, topics, and challenges that may define this new relationship by upholding social justice in the future? 

Join Associate Professor Ryan Allen, Assistant Professor Fernando Burga, and alumnus Denetrick Powers in a conversation moderated by alumna LisaBeth Barajas.


Ryan Allen is an associate professor of community and economic development in the urban and regional planning area. His research focuses on the community and economic development processes of immigrants in the United States.

Fernando Burga is an assistant professor for the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree program. His research deals with equity in urban planning, particularly in relation to the incorporation of immigrants. He combines planning history, ethnographic fieldwork, and design techniques to evaluate how planning addresses immigrant life but also to show how immigrants can engage planning to assert agency, build political power, and mobilize immigrant-based planning agendas.

Denetrick Powers is co-founder and Director of Planning & Engagement of NEOO Development LLC. A curator of space and experience, Denetrick leverages his expertise in arts and culture with his background in urban planning to develop creative programming solutions for public and private clients. Hailing from the Northside of Minneapolis, Denetrick is a proud Polar and Gopher. He received a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the Humphrey School and a B.S. in Business and Marketing Education & Fashion Studies.

LisaBeth Barajas is the Community Development Director at the Metropolitan Council, where she leads her team in regional planning, land use and housing policy, the delivery of housing services, planning for regional parks and trails, regional research, policy analysis, and the administration of the Livable Communities grant programs. Lisa has over 15 years of planning and policy analysis experience across the state of Minnesota and at a variety of scales, including regional, urban neighborhood, small town, and rural planning work.