Diversity at Weitzman

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
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 2019-2020

Below are some of the Weitzman School events in 2019-2020 supporting discussions 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 2019

Mimi Hoang and Eric Bunge: Buildings and Almost Buildings (Sept 4, 2019)
nARCHITECTS is a Brooklyn based architecture office led by Principals Mimi Hoang and Eric Bunge. The practice was founded with the goal of addressing contemporary issues in architecture through conceptually driven, socially engaging and technologically innovative work. Their work instigates interactions between buildings, public space, and their dynamically changing contexts. In recent projects such as Carmel Place (New York City’s first micro unit building), the design center A/D/O, the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center, and the renovation of Chicago's Navy Pier, nARCHITECTS is tackling pressing issues that our cities face – how we live, work and activate public spaces in response to our nation’s changing demographics, housing shortage, evolving workplace technologies and need for equality in the public realm.

Weitzman Students of Color: Meet-n-Greet (Sept 9, 2019)
The Diversity Committee presents a welcome to our students of color with an opportunity to mingle with the Dean and get to know each other. We ask students to RSVP to tufarolo@design.upenn.edu.

Annie Jean-Baptiste, Google’s head of Product Inclusion (Sept 24, 2019)
Inclusion in Design is hosting Annie Jean-Baptiste, Google’s head of Product Inclusion to speak about her experiences and initiatives at Google. Penn Inclusion in Design group intends 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.) Please e-mail inclusionindesign@gmail.com for any inquiries. 

Weitzman Admissions at National Organization of Minorty Architects (NOMA) (Oct 18, 2019)
Brooklyn, NY
The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) mission is to champion diversity within the design professions by promoting the excellence, community engagement, and professional development of its members.

Weitzman Admissions at the California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education (Oct 27, 2019)
Sonoma State University
We look forward to sharing information about our graduate programs.This consortium of public and private colleges and universities is designed particularly to meet the needs of advanced undergraduates and master's candidates who belong to groups that are currently underrepresented in doctoral-level programs.

Lecture Series on the Synthetic: Charles Davis and Solmaz Sharif in Conversation (Nov 4, 2019)
A conversation between poet Solmaz Sharif and architectural historian Charles Davis. Sharif will present a reading of poems titled “’I can’t do what I want / to do with my own body’: A Reading in Conversation with June Jordan” and Davis will present his new visual and scholarly work “Building Black Utopias: The Architectural Modernisms of African American Writers, 1960-1975.”

Change Over Time Dialogues: LGBTQ Heritage  (Nov 5, 2019)
Change Over Time is pleased to announce the launch of issue 8.2 LGBTQ Heritage. Published to coincide with of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, this issue explores the theoretical and practical dimensions of preserving the sites and places of an historically invisible and transient history. Join us on November 5 for a panel discussion moderated by Ken Lustbader, Co-Director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Presented by the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center.

City Planning Talk with Ellen Dunham Jones (Nov 7, 2019)
Ellen Dunham Jones, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Georgia Tech, will speak about “Retrofitting Suburbia for 21st Century Challenges."

Alumni Event: Weitzman Office of Alumni Relations hosts Alumni of Color Reception: City Planning (Nov 8, 2019)
Alumni of Color Reception at the home of Lisa Servon, Kevin and Erica Penn Presidential Professor and Chair of the City and Regional Planning Department, featuring Lisa Nutter, MCP’92, Principal of Sidecar Social Finance and Former First Lady of Philadelphia. 

Women [Re]Build: Stories, Polemics, Futures (Nov 11, 2019)
Book Launch: Graduate Architecture is pleased to host a book launch for Women [Re]Build: Stories, Polemics, Futures, edited by Associate Professor Franca Trubiano and Weitzman School alumnae Ramona Adlakha (MArch'18) and Ramune Bartuskait (MArch'18).

Student group Design in Latin America hosts a talk by Pablo Meninato from Temple University on Interventions in Informal settlements in Latin American countries. (Nov 13, 2019)

Financial Inclusion: Finding Funding Domestically and Internationally (Nov 20, 2019)
Join Inclusion in Design, the International Planning and Development Club, Weitzman Professional Development & Leadership Office, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF), and the Weitzman Research Support Center to learn about financial resources at the University of Pennsylvania.This event seeks to bridge the existing information gap on financial resources, especially for underrepresented students. 

Spring 2020

NOTE: Penn COVID-19 Information and Resources: Penn is taking steps to protect the health and well-being of our community in response to the global coronavirus outbreak. Eliminating large gatherings and creating social distancing are important steps to help prevent the spread of the disease, so public events in SPRING 2020 are being canceled or postponed (visit the online Calendar of Events to confirm.) 

The Penn website dedicated to Coronavirus issues, which is being continuously updated, is coronavirus.upenn.edu. 

Eric Höweler: Forms of Engagement (January 22, 2020) 
Eric Höweler, AIA, LEED AP,  is a cofounding principal of Höweler and Yoon Architecture, a design-driven architecture practice and creative studio that believes design is an instrument for imagining and implementing change – social, cultural, technological, and environmental. Over the last 18 years, the firm has built a reputation for work that is formally and technologically innovative, socially engaged, and conceptually rigorous. Among current projects are the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, the Coolidge Corner Theater expansion, and the MIT Museum.

Rethinking Facadism: Materiality and the Politicization of Historic Structures (January 23, 2020)

Historic Preservation: Challenges and Opportunities in Philadelphia Today (January 29, 2020)

Lecture Series on the Synthetic: Denice Frohman (February 4, 2020)
Denice Frohman is a poet, performer, and educator from New York City. A CantoMundo Fellow, she’s received residencies and awards from the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures, Leeway Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, and is a Tin House Workshop alum. Her work has appeared in Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of Color, What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump, ESPNW and garnered over 10 million views online. A former Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, she’s featured on national and international stages from the Apollo to the White House, and over 200 colleges and universities.

Common Press Series: Activist Poster Printing, Exhibit, & Panel Discussion 

  • Activist Poster Printing with Josh MacPhee of Justseeds Artists' Cooperative & the Interference Archive (February 7 & 9, 2020)
  • Reception and Panel Discussion: Josh MacPhee, Mabel Negrete (Counter Narrative Society), Heidi Ratanavanich (February 10, 2020)
    Join us for an exhibition reception  followed by a panel discussion: "At the Intersection of Art & Activism: A Conversation with Josh MacPhee, Mabel Negrete, and Heidi Ratanavanich." 
  • Exhibit - We are the Storm / Migration Now (January 20 - March 8, 2020)
    In Fisher Fine Arts Library, this exhibit of activist prints by creators across North America combines work from two themed print portfolios. With a focus on climate justice and migration, the exhibit highlights political graphics intended to inspire action, raise awareness, and support social, environmental, and political engagement.

Community Wealth Building: The Way Forward (March 5, 2020)
Penn IUR hosts a special lecture by Marc Morial, President, National Urban League, on building wealth in minority communities. A Penn graduate (C’80), Morial served as a Louisiana State Senator from 1992 to 1994 and as Mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002, during which time he oversaw reductions in crime rates and reinvestment in historic neighborhoods. 

Esra Akcan: Right-to-Heal: Architecture and Transitional Justice  postponed
Consider new ways to understand the global movement of architecture and advocate a commitment to new ethics of hospitality and global justice.

Sophie Hochhäusl: Memories of the Resistance: The Defiant Life of a Female Architect, 1938-1945     postponed
Hochhausel's work centers on modern architecture and urban culture in Austria, Germany, and the United States, with a focus on the history of social movements, environmental history, and women’s and gender studies.

Lizbeth Cohen: “Saving America’s Cities: A New Look at Urban Renewal”  postponed

The Freedom Colony Repertoire: Promising Approaches to Bridging and Bonding Social Capital between Urban and Rural Black Meccas  postponed
Dr. Andrea Roberts is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Associate Director of the Center for Housing & Urban Development at Texas A &M University.
African Americans’ memories of the Great Migration and urban displacement surface in popular culture as a desire to return to rural homeplaces while retaining access to opportunity in urban meccas. The author identifies real examples of this “limbo imaginary” while engaged in an ethnographic study of rural freedom colonies (settlements Black Texans founded 1865-1930). 



University Resources


“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.

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 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 2019

Fall 2018

Spring 2018

Fall 2017


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