2020 marked a year of extraordinary changes. It began with the COVID-19 pandemic, which laid bare the inequities of who was being most impacted medically and economically. It forced us to think about who has access to resources, who is most vulnerable, and who lacks access in our college. In addition, we saw wide support of the Movement for Black Lives in response to the police killing of George Floyd and many other African Americans nationwide. As a result, students, faculty, staff, and alumni called on the college to make an explicit commitment to racial equity. This work is built on many years of advocacy by Black community members (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) and allies. Their advocacy asked us to center racial equity in our diversity, equity, and inclusion work because there are greater disparities by race across all indicators including health, housing, income, graduation rates, incarceration, death, as well within our own professions, than any other social group.
Advancing racial equity requires attention to the norms and culture of a group, how resources are distributed, who makes decisions and on what basis, to whom the group holds itself accountable, and other issues of power and advantage. The progress being made within the Taubman community is supported by new collaborations with industry partners such as New York-based SHoP Architects, which recently gave a lead gift to support the college's work in equity innovation. This page contains Taubman College’s work to advance racial equity, which builds on our diversity, equity, and inclusion plan. We also envision using this space as a place for transparency, to share where we are (including our diversity data and current initiatives), and what we are striving for, while acknowledging that we still have a lot of work to do to advance racial equity at college and in the fields architecture and urban planning.
As our work progresses, this page will be updated. We hope you can join us in advancing racial equity. We can only do so if we do it together.
- Taubman College Student Update: Racial Equity, In-Residence Fall, Academic Initiatives
- Seeking Spatial Justice
- Design Justice Actions Update
- Anti-Asian and Asian American Racism
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Plan
The University of Michigan is entering its fifth year of its 5-year diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic plan. Each academic unit, including Taubman College, has its own DEI strategic plan. At Taubman College, we are four years into an ongoing and comprehensive DEI plan, led by our Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Joana Dos Santos. We are proud to have one of the first DEI officers within a school of architecture and urban planning. The plan includes strategies to advance DEI in five areas for students, faculty, and staff:
- Retention, recruitment, and development
- Education, teaching, and curriculum
- Research and creative practice
- Equitable and inclusive community
This year, as a result of activism at the college, the university, and nationwide, we were able to more clearly embed a racial equity framework into the plan and action items.
The plan includes the voices of students, faculty, and staff that are gathered throughout the year through transparency meetings, one-on-one meetings, student activism/actions, feedback and evaluation sessions, etc. To ensure accountability and responsiveness, the plan holds 25 people responsible for over 100 action items.
DEI + Racial Equity Video Updates
As part of our efforts to embed DEI and racial equity into our policies and practices, it is important that we share our progress. To achieve this, we are launching the "DEI + Racial Equity" video update series.
- Joana Dos Santos, Taubman College's Chief DEI Officer, discusses the Taubman College Pathways program and its recent successes as a student-run program designed to diversify the built environment, particularly within the fields of architecture and urban planning. To learn more about the current objectives of the Pathways program, see our Year 5 DEI Strategic Plan.
- Anna Thompson (M.U.R.P. '21) was an organizer of the student-led MLK Symposium. Anna worked to ensure that marginalized voices are highlighted as part of the event’s decision-making process as well as within the panel portion of the event itself. She also increased the event’s sustainability by working with Taubman leadership to increase the college’s support of the event, which was one of the Measures of Success in our Year 5 DEI Strategic Plan.
Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to pause their work each year on June 19 to engage in university and community activities in recognition of Juneteenth, a celebratory day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. To guide reflection, education, and support of our Black community, our Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Joana Dos Santos and our DEI team compiled a document titled, “Juneteenth and the Built Environment,” which highlights the effects and influence of slavery on our built environment and planning practices today.
Design Justice Actions (DJA)
Taubman College students are essential partners in this work, and many are involved already through academic innovation projects, advocacy, or in other ways. The Taubman College Student Group Coalition, composed of students and representatives from multiple student organizations throughout the college, in partnership with alumni, spearheaded one of the largest student efforts by formulating the Design Justice Actions letter, which calls upon Taubman College leadership, faculty, staff, and students to proactively work together to dismantle the racist structures embedded within our institution. This initiative focuses our attention on a more intentional antiracism framework in our DEI work. Guided by the letter, the Taubman College leadership and DEI team developed an action framework to complement our DEI plan, accelerate forward motion, and add new approaches. We aim to learn from conversations already underway, engage community members in building out this framework, and carry it through to tangible change.
Racial Justice Staff Group
Taubman College staff members, led by Career Development Specialist Holly Naveh, formed a new Racial Justice Working Group focused on whiteness and what white people can do to advance racial justice.
Racial Equity Framework
Advancing racial equity requires attention to the norms and culture of a group, how resources are distributed, who makes decisions and on what basis, to whom the group holds itself accountable, and other issues of power and privilege. Through the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative, the University of Michigan and Taubman College are working to create an institution where all its members (students, faculty, and staff) can achieve their full potential regardless of their social identities (based on race, gender, sexual orientation or ability).
If you have any questions or would like to get involved in advancing racial equity at Taubman College, contact:
Joana Dos Santos
Taubman College Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer