What We Do

AIR Collaborative’s mission is to pursue creative placemaking to foster spatial justice through multidisciplinary research and curricular agendas that benefit and strengthen the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus and surrounding local communities.

What the arts and humanities produce serves as a conduit for knowledge in our daily lives, beyond the traditional academic sense of knowledge absorption: We learn about our communities by walking them, talking with our neighbors, interacting with the layers of space, sound, and people beneath our daily routes. Building on local histories and landscapes, we aim to create opportunities for people to engage with the spaces around them.

AIR Collaborative projects promote inter-departmental and cross-school collaboration while providing students with experience-based education and interdisciplinary networking opportunities.


  • Advance thinking and action around how the arts can intervene in social, political, and environmental structures and frameworks
  • Promote walking as transformative action
  • Foster spatial justice for people with disabilities by working on a universally accessible garden
  • Catalyze a dialogue on equitable access to Rutgers Gardens amongst campus and municipal partners toward the creation of an ADA accessible pedestrian-bike path that connects Cook Campus and the Gardens
  • Improve awareness of the complex histories of Rutgers and its commitment to building an inclusive community and caring for the well-being of its members
  • Initiate dialogues around the intersectionality of spatial justice, racial justice, environmental justice, and public health


  • 2021–2024 — Members of the AIR Collaborative are invited to serve as Douglass Discovery Fellows and engage research interns from the Douglass Residential College in spatial justice projects.
  • 2022 — Rutgers Research Council Social and Racial Justice Grant to create the prototype of a Universally Accessible Garden on Cook Campus. The garden was completed in May 2023.
  • 2021 — Grants from the Rutgers Institute of the Study of Global Racial Justice, The Dean’s Offices of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and Mason Gross School of the Arts, and The Center for Women in the Arts and the Humanities to stage the March2Rutgers Gardens, a choreographed arts-integrated hike of two miles that attracted 500 people walking in September 2021.
  • 2019 — AIR Collaborative is founded in December


  • The Rutgers Universal Access Garden Pilot presented during Disability Awareness Month — October 4, 2023
    Lectures, panel discussion and garden visit
  • Biophilia and Topology: A Reimagining of Landscape Architecture — June 16, 2023
    Lecture by Anette Freytag at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston, where she also presented the work of the AIR Collaborative
  • The AIR Collaborative is present on Rutgers Day 2023 — April 29, 2023
  • Community Conversation on AIR Hub at the New Brunswick Free Public Library — February 21, 2023
    “AIR Hub should be a multi-purpose open-air community gathering space”
  • ETH Circle Podcast Interview — November 2022
    Interview with Anette Freytag on her work at Rutgers, ETH Zurich, and especially the AIR Collaborative
  • Third Swiss Landscape Congress: Towards a new culture to appreciate landscapes, Rapperswil, Switzerland — September 9, 2022
    “Hike Now. Why public suburban space needs hiking”, co-presentation with Anne Brandl (urban planner) and Caspar Schärer (architect)
  • Rutgers University Symposium: Improving Urban Environments — May 20, 2022
    “Engaging Students in Improving Urban Environments through Capstone Design Projects,” presented by Dr. Husam Najm, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Mobilizing the University for Climate Transformation, Rutgers — May 4, 2022
    Poster session with students from Civil and Environmental Engineering (SoE) and the Douglass Discovery Program (DRC) & media room presentation
  • Stage Door Series at Nimbus Arts Center — May 1, 2022
    “Spatial Justice & Creative Placemaking: AIR Collaborative at Rutgers”
  • 9th International Symposium on Teaching and Research in World Architectural History: Describing, Translating, and Narrating Architectural History — Nov 26–Nov 28, 2021
    Session: The Stories of Architectural History: The Problem of Transmission, “Walking and Arts-Integration for Spatial Justice”
  • Feminist Visual Culture Course — Apr 6, 2022
    “Arts-Integration Research Collaborative: Feminist Visual Narratives”
  • Rutgers Public Humanities Workshop, School of Arts & Sciences — Apr 6, 2022
    “Arts-Integration Research Collaborative: Creative Placemaking & Spatial Justice”
  • Center for Cultural Analysis, Artwork in the 21st Century — Nov 30, 2021
    “Choreography, Performance, Audience Engagement, Designed Spaces: The Work of the Arts Integration Research Collaborative”
  • Scarlet and Black Virtual Symposium — Apr 30, 2021
    “Spatial Justice & the March to Rutgers Gardens”