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Tulane School of Architecture (TuSA) is committed to creating and advocating for a built environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. 

The built environment in general, and public land use policies in particular, have historically served to enforce or otherwise perpetuate racial injustice in the United States and globally. Architects and allied professionals have often been complicit in these efforts, occasionally intentionally but also through simple ignorance or callous indifference.

According to the TuSA mission statement, the School aims to educate “committed professionals to creatively manage complexity and transform the world.” Additionally, the TuSA values statement includes a belief that “architecture should focus on pressing social issues” and that “we are committed to confronting historical inequities of the built environment.” Both the educational mission and the professional values of Tulane School of Architecture compel us to develop an anti-racist approach in the classroom and in the world that lies beyond. 

For questions, concerns, and issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion, please contact Edson Cabalfin, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, ecabalfin@tulane.edu
 

Task Force on Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

On June 24, 2020, the Tulane Architecture Faculty unanimously approved the creation of a Task Force on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, with representatives appointed by the Dean from faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The task force was given the following five charges:

  • To facilitate a dialogue specifically about racial equity among faculty, staff, and students at the School of Architecture.
  • To identify and report historical data about racial diversity at the School and in the various fields represented in the School as a baseline for future reporting.
  • To identify an appropriate training program on racial equity for faculty and staff.
  • To compile existing University resources and support for racial equity initiatives and to gather ideas and examples from other Schools of Architecture.
  • To establish a framework for a potential Standing Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

The Task Force submitted their findings and recommendations through a Final Report last February 12, 2021 that the TuSA faculty and staff unanimously voted to adopt. You can view the full report as either PDF or TXT files.

The efforts of the Tulane School of Architecture are consistent with the overall goal of increasing and growing equity, diversity and inclusion across Tulane University as outlined by the Presidential Commission on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Findings & Recommendations

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS OF THE TASK FORCE ON RACIAL EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION:

To establish a series of baseline or reference data points, the Task Force attempted to compile demographic data on students, faculty, and professionals nationally and across all major academic programs in the School. In reviewing this internal data, and focusing specifically on Black students in this initial effort, the Task Force identified three key trends to serve as important context for the ongoing work towards racial equity at TuSA:

1. TuSA is not graduating alumni that reflect the racial demographics of the United States.

The pie charts below show that, according to data from the U.S. Census, from 2000-2020, roughly 14% of the U.S. population ages 20-34 identified as “Black or African American.” At TuSA during this same timeframe, Black or African American graduates represented just 3% of undergraduates and 6% of graduate students.

 

Pie chart of U.S. racial demographics (2000-19)

Pie chart of racial demographics of TuSA Undergraduate Students (2000-20) Pie chart of racial demographics of TuSA Graduate Students (2000-20)

2. The percentage of undergraduate Black TuSA graduates has remained flat or declined slightly over the past 20 years.

The following two charts show the number of actual TuSA Graduates (in black) identifying as Black, versus the number that would have graduated in a given year (in blue) if our alumni reflected the national demographics. The resulting blue area shows the gap, or "missing," Black graduates referenced above.

Line graph of Undergraduate Degrees awarded to black students (2001-20)Line graph of Graduate Degrees awarded to black students (2001-20)

3. Black TuSA students change majors or otherwise drop out of Architecture at twice the rate of all other undergraduate students.

Black students leave Architecture at 2x the rate of all other undergraduate students at Tulane.

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TASK FORCE:

  1. Advocate & Mentor: Establish a new senior administrative faculty role at TuSA to serve as an advocate, advisor, and mentor specifically for the voices of BIPOC students in all programs.
  2. Design & Plan: Charge each academic program at TuSA to develop a report and strategic plan for advancing racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in their respective programs.
  3. Measure Success: Establish a standing faculty committee to review progress and benchmark the successes of TuSA’s long term efforts to advance racial equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  4. Be Transparent: Build out REDI content for the TuSA website and share our journey through TuSA communications and social media efforts.
  5. Be Accountable: Establish an Alumni Accountability Board on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

The Task Force submitted their findings and recommendations through a Final Report last February 12, 2021 that the TuSA faculty and staff unanimously voted to adopt. You can view the full report as either PDF or TXT files.

Current & Future Initiatives

CURRENT INITIATIVES RELATED TO EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION:

Tulane School of Architecture currently has several initiatives that promote equity, diversity and inclusion. Among these initiatives are the following:

  1. The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design is focused in advancing community-driven ideas through collaboration, design education and problem-solving. It works with a variety of nonprofit organizations and community groups to provide design services to communities who are consistently underserved by our field.
  2. URBANbuild is a design/build program in which teams of students take on the design and construction of prototypical homes for New Orleans’ neighborhoods. URBANbuild’s partners in the development of these homes have been a number of non-profit community partners in New Orleans. Work with these organizations has exposed the School to the needs of the city’s underprivileged families as well as to what is required for the revitalization of New Orleans’ urban fabric and neighborhoods.
  3. Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (SISE) Minor provides students with skills to create a more just and equitable society. SISE courses introduce students to concepts of social innovation, human-centered design, and frameworks for social impact leadership.
  4. Existing courses around equity in the built environment, including ARCH 3742/6742 - Design in the Public Interest, ARCH 4041/5051/6041/6051 - Small Center Design Build Studio, URBANBuild and other research studios focusing on non-western sites (such as in Addis Ababa and India).

NEW TuSA INITIATIVES RELATED TO EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION:

Tulane School of Architecture recently embarked on new initiatives that promote equity, diversity and inclusion. Among these initiatives include:

  1. Appointment of Edson Cabalfin, Ph.D. as TuSA’s first Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
  2. Creation of new scholarships for graduate students from underrepresented groups through dedicated funds.
  3. Creation of new teaching fellowships program that endeavors to mentor emerging scholars, practitioners, and academics who will contribute on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the built environment.

    The Visiting Assistant Professor (Tulane Architecture Fellow) position in the Tulane School of Architecture for Fall 2021 is now open and live. This visiting assistant professor position is a two-year teaching and research fellowship that endeavors to mentor emerging scholars, practitioners, and academics who are committed to principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the built environment. The Tulane Architecture Fellow is expected to teach 15 credits per year or equivalent to two studio courses and one lecture/seminar course per year at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels. Concurrently, the fellow is expected to conduct research during tenure of the fellowship. The area of research is open and based on the individual interest of the fellow. The fellow will be invited to present part of their research in a public forum during the end of the second fellowship year. During the time of the fellowship, the fellow will also be mentored by faculty from TuSA regarding teaching and research. Candidates can apply through: https://apply.interfolio.com/84601

  4. New courses around equity and diversity, including ARCH 4931/6931 - Ethics in the Built Environment, ARCH 4930/6930 - Identity and Agency in Architecture.
  5. Restructuring ARCH 1112/6112 and ARCH 1114/6114 – History of Architecture course sequence to introduce students to western and non-western architects and examples.
  6. Introduction of multicultural references, expanding the canon, for several courses in Architecture, Design, Preservation, SISE and Real Estate Development.
  7. Full faculty and staff training with Racial Equity Institute - Groundwater and VISIONS focusing on multi-culturalism, diversity, and equity.
  8. Students training with VISIONS focusing on multi-culturalism, diversity, and equity.
  9. Increased financial support for Tulane National Organization of Minority Architecture Students.

PROPOSED TuSA INITIATIVES RELATED TO EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION:

We will be announcing new initiatives related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the coming months. This section will be updated regularly so kindly check this page again in the future.