June 18, 2020
Dear GSAPP Community,
In my June 2 Message of Solidarity, I expressed GSAPP’s commitment to addressing how racial injustice, bias, and violence course through our own discipline and our need to both listen to what is being asked of us in this moment and demand more of ourselves. Over the past few weeks, we have engaged in a series of ongoing meetings with GSAPP faculty, students, and alumni from across generations and programs. We have heard from many of you as you expressed your concerns as well as your ideas and have begun to build a comprehensive and collective action plan across our community.
We recognize the urgent need for GSAPP to do more to confront racial inequity, acknowledge anti-Blackness, and take an active role in addressing systemic racism and biases. We are committed to change, and we are engaging in a comprehensive re-examination of the School. In order to be the inclusive, vibrant laboratory we strive to be, we must do the hard work of confronting head-on the crucial issues of representation, inclusion, and exclusion that architecture and the disciplines and practices of the built environment necessarily construct. Racial inequity and social justice are intimately tied to issues of climate change, locally and globally, and GSAPP is in a unique position to render the intersections of climate, society, and the built environment not only visible but also actionable as architects, planners, preservationists, designers, and developers.
In the immediate time frame, we are working with the Office of University Life to develop diversity, equity, and inclusion training across the School. We will be holding a series of anti-racism and inclusion workshops for faculty, students, and staff, as well as a cross-cultural orientation for new and returning students at the start of the Fall semester.
In order to develop more focused recommendations that can affect lasting change across the School, we are committed to working with external diversity, equity, and inclusion experts to assess our processes and make recommendations on a range of aspects. This effort is particularly critical in addressing access to education and increasing our Black faculty and student populations through changes in the recruitment and admissions processes.
At the faculty level, a working group is convening to create shared resources with the aim of fostering a more inclusive academic environment at GSAPP, including recommendations for future programming and engagement. We will dedicate a majority of the School’s programming throughout the upcoming academic year to focus on issues of race, representation, and the intersections of climate change, racial equity, and social justice.
The faculty is committed to an engaged curriculum that does not perpetuate bias and to addressing anti-Blackness. We are holding School-wide faculty meetings dedicated to this topic and will convene ongoing conversations within each academic program at the School.
GSAPP is dedicated to the crucial and ongoing task of decentering our field away from its prevalent whiteness through teachings and curricula, and we are committed to intensifying these efforts to engage the urgent issues facing architecture and the built environment today and in the future. We will continue to develop new interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary courses, advance research, and produce events, conferences, exhibitions, and publications to that end.
Beyond the studios and classrooms, we will deepen our partnerships with organizations that support Black and other professionals of color in the architecture and real estate communities, such as NOMA’s Project Pipeline and Project Destined. GSAPP will continue to seek additional partnerships with organizations dedicated to the critical work of providing opportunities for underrepresented students and professionals.
The GSAPP Alumni Board has been an important partner in speaking for alumni concerns at the School. We look forward to deepening this collaboration as we continually strengthen the School’s ties with our alumni and hear voices from across the generations and around the world.
This is an important time for GSAPP to mobilize and continue to address the critical issues we face as a School, as a set of disciplines and practices, and as a society at large. We will develop additional anti-racist initiatives, share our progress through the GSAPP website, and invite your ongoing participation as we implement specific steps in this dedicated, long-term effort of transformative change. I look forward to many more thoughtful, inclusive conversations with you and to the resulting actions that will bring about lasting change to our institution and to the field.