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Historic Preservation
Anti-Racism Task Force

Statement of Purpose

The Anti-Racism Task Force was created in December of 2020 as a part of the Historic Preservation Program’s on-going commitment to taking action on systemic racism. During the summer and fall of 2020, calls for action were published by many groups, including the Black Students Alliance, GSAPP Black Faculty, the Historic Preservation Program student body, the Urban Planning Program student body, and the Historic Preservation Program’s faculty and Director. The Task Force is charged with using these calls for action as the basis for the development and implementation of specific plans that will initiate meaningful, sustainable systemic change.

We recognize that there are immediate actions that can be taken to change the structure of how we operate within our academic community and we will take steps to ensure that such actions are accomplished.

We accept the responsibility of creating a framework that will ensure additional long term, sustainable actions that will promote systemic change in our Program, in our academic discipline, and in professional practice.

The needs are many and varied in nature. To move forward on as many items as possible concurrently, the Task Force has been divided into four subgroups. Each subgroup is responsible for developing plans and initiating action on different topics. Below, please find each subgroup’s specific goals and objectives statement.

Communications and Network Building
The Communications and Network Building committee is responsible for clear and transparent communication of the goals, initiatives, and progress of the Historic Preservation Anti-Racism Task Force to HP Program students, faculty, and alumni, as well as to the larger GSAPP and preservation communities, and for providing a framework that will ensure on-going communications from the HP program about these matters. The Committee will also create a sustainable action plan for and will begin the process of building relationships with alumni, professional organizations, community groups, and other academic institutions to further robust and diverse dialogue and expand existing mentorship and internship programs.
Research and Co-Created Knowledge
The Research and Co-Created Knowledge subgroup will explore the intellectual position that the Columbia GSAPP Historic Preservation Program has occupied and currently occupies with respect to questions of anti-racism. The subgroup will research how the HP Program has fostered or suppressed anti-racist knowledge and attitudes over the course of its existence. In doing so, we hope to discover opportunities for outreach (e.g., past connections with organizations or sites related to institutionally underrepresented publics that could be re-established), while also discerning and combating the Program’s past blind spots around questions of race and social exclusion. By better understanding the Program’s previous efforts and positioning, we will propose and implement ways for the HP Program to promote and amplify anti-racist scholarship within the historic preservation field at large, through future research initiatives led by HP faculty and students, public programming, master classes, and research symposia.
Studio Learning and Engagement
The Studio Learning and Engagement subgroup will review the existing GSAPP Historic Preservation Studio sequence to examine how content, learning methods, and community engagement practices can evolve to confront anti-racism and other forms of bias. This examination seeks to challenge exclusionary practices and implicit bias within studio pedagogy, as well as identify opportunities for advancing anti-racism and social justice writ large. Focus will be on the didactic potential of the HP studios to innovate through the application of preservation tools and methods, to advance reciprocal, community-engaged learning, and to expand object-centric practices to confront the social-spatial dynamics of heritage creation. As a critical space for experimentation and applied learning, the Studios are inextricably linked to the HP curriculum as a whole, and this subgroup will work with HP faculty as well as the GSAPP Anti-Racism Task Force to ensure effective development and integration of ideas across the Program and the School.
Course (Non-Studio) Content and Learning Methods
The Course (non-studio) Content and Learning Methods subgroup will work on examining the content of courses and the adaptations and improvements required to achieve systemic change in the HP Program. To implement revisions, a methodological approach will be tested to provide guidance to faculty members to undertake specific workshops to revise and redesign syllabi. Course review will center examining ways to better incorporate issues of race to confront the systems of exclusion that exist within HP practice. Through engagement between faculty and students, it is expected that courses will develop pedagogical approaches and incorporate crucial content that include discussions on race, diversity, equity and inclusion. Revised courses will provide students with additional learning opportunities to acquire necessary skills to make meaningful change in addressing systemic racism in Historic Preservation practice.