The University of Oregon College of Design and eight other leading U.S. colleges and schools of architecture, planning, and design have co-founded the Deans' Equity and Inclusion Initiative to work together to nurture a diverse population of emerging scholars focused on teaching and researching the built environment to advance socio-ecological and spatial justice, equity and inclusion.
“We recognize the important role design has to play in supporting and facilitating a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive world,” said Adrian Parr, dean of the College of Design. “The perspectives students are exposed to and the opportunity to share and learn from different experiences eventually re-shape the professional sector, which in turn influences the design and development of more welcoming built environments.”
Launched this summer, the cornerstone of the initiative is a cohort-based fellowship program that supports early career faculty who seek to engage in an academic career, while also contributing to the pursuit of equity and inclusion in the built environment. The program’s structure fosters a sharing of ideas and perspectives as the fellows are selected to work in new academic settings with the nine partner schools and colleges.
“We recognize the important role design has to play in supporting and facilitating a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive world.”
—Dean Adrian Parr
“The equity and inclusion fellows are central in realizing and infusing the principles of JEDI [just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive] throughout the classroom, in research, creative practice, and ultimately the profession,” Parr noted. “The College of Design at the University of Oregon is excited to be collaborating with other institutions across the country on this initiative.”
Partners in the Deans' Initiative are: Tulane School of Architecture; Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks institute; University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning; Cornell College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP); University of Southern California School of Architecture; University of Texas at Arlington College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs; University of Virginia School of Architecture; and Yale School of Architecture. New schools will join as the initiative develops, with the hope of creating a collective effort across the nation.
Each fellow will participate in a one- or two-year cohort, including two summer institutes hosted at different schools each year. Additionally, each fellow is paired with an internal mentor and an external mentor during their fellowship. The nine partner schools will select fellows with specific attention to BIPOC and other underrepresented faculty from schools dedicated to the built environment professions and practices. Fellows are currently in the process of being selected for the first cohort with some named and now beginning their fellowships.
Architect and educator Sami Chohan is in the first cohort of fellows; Chohan is also joining the School of Architecture & Environment (SAE) as a visiting faculty fellow in Design for Spatial Justice, an initiative that is unique to SAE, which began in 2019.
“Increasing diversity in ways that value and strengthen equity and inclusion in our institutions requires more than what any one school can do. We believe it takes the collective of design schools to change who we hire, and what we teach and practice,” states the Deans' Initiative website. “An important contribution is to collectively foster the mentoring of a next generation of diverse faculty into successful academic careers. Working together, we believe that through cross-institutional mentoring and stewardship of early career faculty, the initiative will expand and enrich the community of BIPOC and URM designers and scholars engaged in tenure-track faculty positions.”
For more information, visit deansequityandinclusioninitiative.com.