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A Message from GSAPP’s Anti-Racism Task Force

April 23, 2021

Dear fellow members of the GSAPP Community,

The Anti-Racism Task Force (ARTF) has concluded the first phase of its work this spring. Principal initiatives begun during this first phase include:

  1. Development of the Common Circle, a series of workshops on anti-racist thought and pedagogy to be taught collaboratively by approximately twenty GSAPP faculty in paired sections and required for incoming GSAPP students beginning in Fall 2021. The ARTF will collaborate with the teaching faculty on content and delivery modes in advance, as well as seek student input.

  2. The Community Fellows program, in which up to three members from diverse neighboring communities join the intellectual and cultural life of GSAPP for an academic year. These fellows will offer talks, participate in panels and classes, and be otherwise available to students to deepen their understanding of the issues and opportunities that characterize the urban context in which Columbia is situated. Applications for the Fellows positions will be accepted from June 1, with selection finalized during the summer for Fellowships to begin during Fall 2021 semester.

  3. Curricular development funding for faculty, based on proposals for developing new courses or significantly enhancing existing ones involving topics related to race, the built environment, and society, with a special emphasis on anti-racist themes and approaches. Applications will be sought during the summer, with awards to be announced in the fall for courses to be developed during calendar year 2022.

  4. An ongoing series of listening sessions with students and student organizations centered on the experience of different groups at GSAPP, across all programs, with respect to social and educational questions related to racial diversity and inclusion. Input from these sessions, which have consistently informed the ARTF’s work, will serve as the foundation for further development of strategies, training, and initiatives to address gaps in intercultural knowledge and relationships which present themselves in the classroom, in student life, and on study trips to diverse communities around the globe.

  5. A series of faculty workshops in which faculty members across all programs discuss anti-racist teaching strategies and curricular initiatives that they have undertaken or plan to undertake, some of which are specific to individual programs, while others cut across the GSAPP curriculum. These workshops have provided an opportunity for faculty to compare notes and to learn from one another about different teaching strategies and the various curricular levels at which these might be implemented, and will continue during the Fall 2021 semester.

  6. The enhancement of existing forms of interdisciplinary courses, in both classroom and studio settings, and the development of new ones. Based on input from both students and faculty, the ARTF has come to view such courses, and their integration into the curricula of individual programs, as an important vehicle for enriching and building upon the dialogue and strategies for inclusive, sensitive, anti-racist teaching and learning initiated with the Common Circle.

Thank you for your involvement and feedback throughout the past months. The Anti-Racist Task Force will continue its work on these initiatives and looks forward to further engagement with faculty and students going forward.

Lucia Allais, Kate Ascher, Lance Freeman, Malo Hutson, Andrés Jaque, Reinhold Martin, and Weiping Wu

Additional Letters from the Anti-Racism Task Force