Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Weitzman

Our Commitment to Anti-Racism Work and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action

As of August 3, 2020

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design unequivocally condemns the police brutality and anti-Black violence that led to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and dozens of other Black, Indigenous and People of Color before them.

We recognize that these tragic events are just the latest, most high-profile incidents in our nation’s long history of institutionalized racism. We also recognize our profound obligation as a school to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Weitzman community and the professions we help sustain. We acknowledge the direct link between anti-Black racism and violence, and affirm our commitment to promoting design justice as part of our institutional mission to advance the public good. We call on all of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni – particularly those with privilege – to reflect on our own contributions to perpetuating racial inequality and how we can actively support the Black community as well as the other minority communities who make up our School.

There is much work to be done in addressing structural inequality and routing out racism and, as an institution, we have an obligation to take concrete steps towards that goal. Responding to centuries of injustice is not an intellectual exercise. If we are to make progress, we must commit ourselves, individually and collectively, to eliminate the harmful biases within our community. The Weitzman School is committed to taking action and to regularly monitoring and documenting our progress across our operations in the following five areas.

Recruitment of Faculty, Staff, and Students

  • Recruit, retain, and support more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) faculty and staff members, including tenure track faculty and faculty and staff in leadership positions.
  • Recruit, retain, and support more BIPOC students.
  • Implement initiatives to increase the pipeline of BIPOC students pursuing the art, design, planning, and preservation professions.

Creating a More Inclusive Community – Training and Programming

  • Conduct anti-racism and diversity and inclusion training for faculty, staff, and students on an ongoing basis.
  • Provide training to all students in how to engage with BIPOC sites and communities in a respectful, meaningful way, as part of design studios, research or consulting projects – adopting the mindset and practice of partner and collaborator, rather than visitor.
  • Implement programming to make the Weitzman community more inclusive and to ensure that all students, faculty, and staff members are valued and feel heard.

Knowledge Production/Preparing Students/Advancing the Professions

  • Review and restructure the curricula in each of the School’s departments to ensure a diverse representation of voices and perspectives, including BIPOC voices.
  • Increase the diversity of studio critics, jurors, and other academic participants in the School.
  • Ensure that the School’s research agenda includes work by, and for, BIPOC and other marginalized communities.
  • Increase public awareness of how the architecture, fine art, landscape architecture, planning, and preservation professions have contributed to racial injustice and formulate a framework for promoting racial equity.

Financial Support

  • Establish an emergency fund to help students with financial need or who encounter unanticipated financial emergencies, and increase transparency related to out-of-pocket costs.
  • Continue to raise funds to support student fellowships and help decrease student debt.

Infrastructure, Transparency, and Reporting

  • Ensure that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work is more prominent in and more fully integrated into the School and each department/program, and review relevant data and accountability measures regularly to monitor the School’s progress.
  • Increase transparency related to selection criteria for awards and student employment.

We intend for this list to evolve as we grow in our work. We invite feedback, and we commit to reporting on our efforts and progress at least annually.  Each of us has a role, and we pledge our commitment to continuous work to be antiracist in our thinking and in our doing.

A Message from Dean Steiner: Mourning George Floyd

Dear Weitzman Community,

Life under quarantine has challenged all of us to look beyond ourselves to prevent the suffering of others, yet today we confront such widespread pain that I am struggling to say anything that will make a meaningful difference. But words are important as we gather our strength to move forward with purpose.

I am appalled by the senseless death of George Floyd, who last week joined the far-too-long list of other African Americans killed by the very people charged to protect us, and I know many of you are hurting.

In George Floyd’s death, we’re witnesses, yet again, to the destructive bias, unequal treatment, and unchecked violence that have taken root in our society, and the deep wounds created by systemic racism. Every day, Black men, women and children are unfairly targeted and treated unequally because of their race—an experience, I am saddened to say, that is not foreign to many members of our community, who have themselves been victims of bias and racism. To the Black members of the Weitzman community, I offer my profound condolences. I want to acknowledge your experiences, your frustration, and your anger, and to express my heartfelt support. 

Moving forward, let us redouble our commitment to building a more just and healthy world. Let us recognize that we rise and fall together, and that we all have a responsibility to eradicate hatred, bigotry, and racism in our communities. Let us protect each other and the planet that sustains us. Let us design and plan more equitable places. Let us preserve Civil Rights sites and other places significant to African American heritage. Let us make art that reveals the truth about our weaknesses and our possibilities. Let us ask each day: what good may we do?

Sincerely,
Fritz Steiner
Dean and Paley Professor
Co-Executive Director, The Ian L. McHarg Center: Urbanism + Ecology
University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design

Summer 2020 Message from Inclusion in Design

Dear Weitzman Community,

The members of Inclusion in Design have been deeply saddened by recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among countless others. We are angered by the pervasive racism and bigotry in this country that actively oppress the black community. 

The fight for equity, inclusivity, and justice is not just about equality, but also the survival and prosperity of black and brown communities in the United States. It is horrible that the black community is constantly targeted and are openly abused and murdered while merely existing. Ultimately, the fight for equality and equity doesn't end at survival, it ends when the systems of oppression that perpetuates law enforcement's abuse of power (or the police state), poverty and disparity are abolished.

The members of Inclusion in Design are committed to supporting students of color at Weitzman and support the current protests occurring in Philadelphia and throughout the country. We firmly stand with the black community at Weitzman and throughout the country against police brutality, social and economic violence, and racism.

Inclusion in Design would like to ask the Weitzman faculty, students, and staff to reflect on the perpetual violence directed especially at the African-American community during this time and develop transformative actions we can both support and initiate within our professional fields that directly support our neighbors. Our professions, ranging from policy and advocacy to design, demands that we believe Black stories and work radically to repair these ills.  We have a responsibility as students of color, as allies, and as professionals to dismantle the institutions propagating these injustices.

Please feel free to reach out at inclusionindesign@gmail.com with any concerns or suggestions that can help support this movement.

Peace and Strength,
IiD [Inclusion in Design is a student-led group that seeks to foster an environment in which students of color, marginalized identities, and allies can thrive.]

If you feel compelled to donate, below are a list of a few organizations that need our support.

Places to Donate:
Philadelphia Community Bail Fund
National Bailout Fund
Reclaim the Block
Philabundance
Youth Art & Self Empowerment Project
Philly for R.E.A.L. Justice

Black & Brown Workers Cooperative

Our Commitment to Diversity

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design is committed to creating an educational setting in which all students, faculty members, and staff members are valued.

We strive to create an inclusive culture that celebrates difference and is strengthened by contributions from people of all races, religions, countries of origin, genders, ages, sexual orientations, physical abilities, learning differences, and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

We aspire to support and retain a student body, faculty and staff who are representative of the multiple communities and publics with which we collaborate and work. 

A diverse community here enhances our ability to prepare the next generation of artists, architects, landscape architects, planners, and preservationists to become leaders and innovators in a multicultural society.

Read a message from Dean Fritz Steiner, "Mourning George Floyd," June 1, 2020.
Read a message from President Amy Gutmann on recent tragic events, June 3, 2020.

Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Committee

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” –President Barack Obama


Shortly after his appointment in the summer of 2016, Dean Steiner formed a Faculty Diversity Work Group (DWG) to advise him on strategies to (1) increase the diversity of the School’s faculty, staff, and student body; (2) promote a more inclusive community; (3) and foster a learning environment that encourages and celebrates difference. In June 2017, the DWG presented the Dean with a report with recommendations to continue these efforts. In September 2017 the Dean convened a formal Diversity Committee with faculty, staff, and student representation to implement recommendations. In October 2017, Associate Director for Faculty Affairs, Karyn Tufarolo, was named the Weitzman School Diversity Coordinator. This position, working closely with all member of the committee, organizes events, coordinates trainings and discussions on diversity-related issues, updates the diversity section of the school’s website, and reports on the Weitzman School’s progress toward goals outlined in the school’s Faculty Diversity Plan. Activities have included: faculty discussions regarding resources within course content and supporting inclusive classrroms, student diversity town halls, students of color meet-n-greeet, events highlighting elective offerings addressing specific topics of diversity, a conversation about gender-inclusivity in the academic environment, implicit bias workshops, a dialogues across difference workshop, discussions on micoraggressions in the workplace, and more. In Fall 2019, the committee renamed themselves as the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Committee to better reflect the scope of these ongoing efforts.

Events - Fall 2020 (online)

Below are some of the Weitzman School events in fall 2020 supporting discussions and activities relating to equality, social justice, and diversity in many forms within our disciplines.Events are updated at the beginning of the term and additions to this list should be sent to the Weitzman Diversity Coordinator at tufarolo@design.upenn.edu.


Fall 2020 (Note: Penn's commitment to health and safety during the global pandemic means that in-person events are not possible in fall 2020. Fall 2020 events are being held online during this time)

  • Faculty Workshop: Discourse Across Difference - (Aug 6 +17, 2020) - Includes a short overview of the literature on patterns of latent bias in our academic life, educational and climate implications, and ways to support students and colleagues as we grapple with the inequities of our culture. While not exclusively about race-based patterns of discrimination, it includes strategies for teaching and talking about and across race, including classroom scenarios to consider.
  • Weitzman New Student Orientation  - (Aug 28, 2020) - New student orientation includes sesisons on "International Student Orientation to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging," "Engaging Design and Designing Engagement," and "Broadening Your Perspectives: Implicit Bias, Privilege, and Microaggressions."
  • Weitzman Students of Color: Meet-n-Greet (Date TBA) - The DEI Committee presents a welcome to our students of color (new and returning) with an opportunity to mingle and get to know each other. We ask students to RSVP to tufarolo@design.upenn.edu.
  • Weitzman LGBQT Students: Meet-n-Greet (Date TBA) - The DEI Committee presents a welcome to our students of color (new and returning) with an opportunity to mingle and get to know each other. We ask students to RSVP to tufarolo@design.upenn.edu.
  • Esra Akcan: Right-to-Heal: Architecture and Transitional Justice  (Oct 5 2020) Akcan’s research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia, and offers new ways to understand architecture’s global movement, as well as its complicit or constitutive role in global, social and environmental justice. 
  • Andrea Roberts | The Freedom Colony Repertoire: Promising Approaches to Bridging and Bonding Social Capital between Urban and Rural Black Meccas (Oct 21 2020) The author engageis in an ethnographic study of rural freedom colonies (settlements Black Texans founded 1865-1930). Results indicate that, for African Americans, embodying urban-rural liminality is an existential space of opportunity and ingenuity.
  • Annie Jean-Baptiste, Google’s head of Product Inclusion (Date TBA) - Jean-Baptiste will discuss her work and her new book, Buiding for Everyone.
  • Sophie Hochhäusl: Memories of the Resistance: The Defiant Life of a Female Architect, 1938-1945 (Nov 2, 2020)

     

University Resources

PennDiversity

“The diversity of our university must reflect the diversity of the world around it – and the diversity of the world that we want our students to lead.” - Amy Gutmann, President

Student Resources

Faculty Resources

       Articles regarding Inclusive Teaching

Professional Resources

The following professional resources may be useful for those who want to connect with organizations serving the architectural, urban planning, design, landscape architecure, fine arts or preservation professions. Additional links can be submitted to tufarolo@design.upenn.edu.                                                             

African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is a funding initiative aimed at protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation.

American Institute of Architects (AIA) advocates for the value of architecture and to give architects the resources they need to do their best work.

American Institute of Architects (AIA) Center for Civic Leadership 

American Institute for Architects (AIA) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

American Institute for Architects (AIA) Guides for Equitable Practice
Guides for understanding and building equity in the architecture profession

American Planning Association (APA) is a professional organization representing the field of urban planning in the United States.

APA Planning and the Black Community Division (PBCD) of the American Planning Association provides a forum for planners, administrators, public officials, students, and other interested individuals to address issues of significance to the black community.

American Institute for Conservation Architecture Specialty Group (ASG) develops and promotes the conservation of immovable cultural property such as buildings, monuments, outdoor sculpture, and related heritage sites.

American Society of Lansdscape Architects (ASLA) advances landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education, and fellowship. Sustainability has been part of the mission since its founding and is an overarching value that informs the programs and operations.

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Diversity Summit  brings together a group of experienced and emerging landscape architects who identify as African American or Latinx to develop strategies that address diversity issues in the field.

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility works for peace, environmental protection, ecological building, social justice, and the development of healthy communities.

Association of Architecture Organizations conducts public programs that serve nonprofit architectural organizations and interested individuals.

College Art Association of America (CAA) promotes the visual arts and their understanding through advocacy, intellectual engagement, and a commitment to the diversity of practices and practitioners.

College Art Association of America (CAA) Committee on Diversity Practices promotes artistic, curatorial, scholarly, and institutional practices that deepen appreciation of political and cultural heterogeneity as educational and professional values. 

National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) exists to champion diversity within the design professions by promoting the excellence, community engagement, and professional development of its members.

National Organization of Minority Architects - Philadelphia Chapter (PHILANOMA) advances the cause, promotes the development, and addresses concerns of minority design professionals.

National Trust for Historic Preservation  protects significant places representing our diverse cultural experience by taking direct action and inspiring broad public support.

National Urban League strives to enable African American and other underserved urban residents to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation, and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes, and urbanism worldwide.

Moelis Scholars Program

Beginning fall 2019, as part of an ongoing effort to support diversity within the Weitzman School, the Department of City and Regional Planning launched the Moelis Scholars Program, open to African-American and Latinx students who are thinking about pursuing careers in housing and community and economic development. The Moelis Scholars Program supports students of color in the Master of City Planning program with tuition remission, mentoring, and other benefits. The goal is not just to bring people from a range of backgrounds into the planning discipline, but to help them find a way into the private development world as well, says Ron Moelis (C’78 W’78), CEO and founding partner of L+M Development Partners and the primary supporter of this fellowship program. Meet the first Moelis Scholars here.

Penn Planning Equity Initiative

The Penn Planning Equity Initiative is an effort throughout the Department of City and Regional Planning to address equity topics.

Inequality is higher and more widespread today than when first documented a hundred years ago.Inequality undercuts global economic performance and impacts the social cohesion and the well-being of tens of millions of people around the world.

The Penn Planning Equity Initiative has three components

  • Redefining planning research and practice: capacity-building;
  • Promoting action research and its application;understanding and addressing inequality; and
  • Stimulating public dialogue: disseminating new knowledge
    Together, these complementary activities fortify the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design’s leadership in this area, making it the “go to place” on issues of urban inequality in Philadelphia and across the globe.

Historic Preservation: Racial and Social Equity Resource List

The Historic Preservaion Program is working to make room for the voices that have previously been excluded from the national narrative and fight the prejudice and intolerance that cuts across our towns and cities. They have gathered these resources regarding racial and social equity, relating to the preservation field, including a variety of media including books, articles, websites, podcasts, and films, categorized for easier discovery. When possible, they have provided links for purchase of these books from local Philadelphia, black-owned bookshops and encourage support of local businesses, especially as many begin to reopen their brick and mortar locations. This is by no means an exhaustive list and they welcome addition resources on an ongoing basis. https://www.design.upenn.edu/historic-preservation/racial-and-social-equ...

 

 

Inclusion in Design

Inclusion in Design is a student-led group that seeks to foster an environment in which students of color, marginalized identities, and allies can thrive. (Marginalized identities include: racial, ethnic, sexual minorities, disabled students, international students etc.) They have organized lunchtime presenters, town halls, a student PechaKucha event, and are working on ways to build connection across the Weitzman design community. Please e-mail inclusionindesign@gmail.com for any inquiries. 

Design in Latin America

Design in Latin America is a student-led group created to share the vibrant, diverse, and singular Latin American cultures with students, faculty members, staff, and the general community at the Weitzman School. Their misson is to address Latin American topics to foster a reciprocal cultural exchange within the Weitzman School, and with other Latin American organizations, on campus and beyond; particularly with students, scholars, researchers, and professionals whose work is informed by, and/or contribute to understand, appreciate and enhance Latin American diversity and address the region’s pending challenges. "The term 'Latin America' was created in early-nineteenth-century France to advance a collective 'Latin' identity rooted in culture, and ever since, it has been enriched, reinforced, questioned, and challenged by theoretical and practical assemblies that emphasize cultural, political, historical, and economic aspects of the region," - Patricio del Real

Women in Architecture

Since the fall of 2016, the Penn Women in Architecture group has been actively examining this historically male dominated profession while providing networking and mentorship opportunities to members. The goal is to mobilize a community of designers and thinkers with the purpose of increasing the incidence and visibility of women in architecture. Their hope is to bring awareness to the gender disparity that exists in the profession and empower each other by fostering growth, promoting success, and above all, cultivating the next generation of female leaders in the profession.

Women in Architecture hosted their first symposium on Women in Architecture, [RE]FORM: The Framework, Fallout & Future of Women in Design, in spring of 2017, as well as several other networking and social events. The next year, they presented a symposium titled [RE]ACTION: Empowering the Future Leaders in Design. Organized by students, this full day workshop featured opportunities for attendees to develop skills to take charge of their careers. Topics included negotiating offers, networking for impact, knowing your rights, navigating construction sites, and vocal empowerment - as well as a panel discussion about navigating architecture and entrepreneurship.   
 

QueerDesign

QueerDesign is a student-run group at the Weitzman School, created to build a community of LGBTQ+ designers to support a space of exchange and judgment free collaboration. Aiming to foster discussions about the meaning of diversity and its intersection with design at Penn and beyond, QueerDesign hopes to connect to existing networks of students and professionals. In addition, the organization explores a number of facets of queer culture and history, specifically within the realm of design. At Penn, QueerDesign partners with other groups on campus to curate a variety of social, educational, and professional events.

 

Urban China Collective

Established in October 2017, the Urban China Collective (UCC) is a student-run group which serves as a platform to foster understanding of China’s urban development through lectures and workshops at Penn. They seek to strengthen the network of scholars, practitioners, and students devoted to studying China’s urbanization across disciplines and institutions both within Penn community and beyond. 

Postdoctoral Fellowships for Academic Diversity

The Weitzman School is pleased to work with the Provost's Office in support of the Penn Postdoctoral Fellowships for Academic Diversity Program. This is a competitive program whose goal is to increase the diversity of the community of scholars devoted to academic research at the University of Pennsylvania. We seek to attract promising researchers and educators from different backgrounds, races, ethnic groups, and other diverse populations whose life experience, research experience and employment background will contribute significantly to their academic missions. We are pleased to currently host Matt Miller as our Postdoctoral Fellow in City and Regional Planning for a three-year term, and to recognize that current lecturer, Akira Drake Rodriguez, joined the Department of City and Regional Planning via this Provost initiative.

Archive of Past Events

Below are some of our past events promoting discussions relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion:

Spring 2020 (During the spring 2020 term, Penn took steps to protect the health and well-being of our community in response to the global coronavirus outbreak. Eliminating large gatherings meant that many events were cancelled.)

Fall 2019

Spring 2019

Fall 2018

Spring 2018

Fall 2017

#YouAreWelcomeHere

Dean Steiner sent the following message to the PennDesign community on Monday, March 20, 2017.

Dear PennDesign Community,

Immigration policy affects all of us, and because the stakes are so high, many of us have felt compelled to affirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion publicly. One forum for doing this is the grassroots social media campaign #YouAreWelcomeHere. The campaign has been championed by schools and other organizations across the country as both a pledge to international students considering study in the U.S. and an affirmation of current students’ invaluable contribution to our communities.

I invite you to add your voice to the campaign and send a message of inclusion. PennDesign’s communications staff are distributing #YouAreWelcomeHere signs throughout Meyerson, Morgan, and Addams over the coming days for everyone’s use. PennDesign will also have signs and a photographer at Happy Hour on Friday, March 24, and the Faculty Meeting on Wednesday, April 19. As President Gutmann wrote last month, “It has never been more vital for us to come together, as one community, to find strength in our diversity.”

Fritz Steiner