Weitzman News

Posted August 4, 2020

The Weitzman School of Design’s Commitment to Anti-Racism Work and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action

On August 3, 2020, the Weitzman School released a wide-ranging plan for addressing structural inequality and routing out institutional racism.

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.

Read more about DEI work in Diversity at Weitzman.