The Department of Interior Architecture and Design’s students, staff and faculty have long been guided by a mission that well designed environments should be available to all people, and that design can serve as an agent for social change. However, there is more that can be done to bring these guiding words into a place of action. In response, a task force of current students, alumni, faculty and staff has been meeting since August with the goal of examining issues of equity, diversity and inclusion and developing an intentional, feasible and long-term plan for action to make the Department more mindful and proactively responsive to these matters.
Changes and initiatives are already underway: the current semester is dedicated to building awareness and gathering student, faculty and staff perspectives with the intention to generate a long-term plan for action next spring. Now in process are workshops for students and faculty as well as student focus group listening sessions planned for November to compliment those held last summer. Three external guest speakers (Ronnie Belizaire, Kia Weatherspoon and Melanie Murata) are sharing their perspectives on diversity and inclusion in design clientele and in increasing the diversity in designers and design student populations. Future discussions will also explore ways to ease the monetary costs of design studies.
It is widely recognized that our profession’s design practitioners do not currently mirror the diversity of the population we are called to serve. The Department intends to take manageable and achievable steps toward addressing this problem, while also championing project types that extend the good that design can do to previously underserved population groups. We believe that open and transparent discussion and tapping the creative ideas for change designers bring to the table represents the way forward toward lasting progress. Stay tuned for more progress to come!