Our Commitment to Diversity and Social Equity
The School of Architecture, through its policies and programs, strives to promote diversity and social equity. We are committed to a departmental culture in which all students, staff, and faculty members—irrespective of race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, gender, age, physical ability, or sexual orientation—are able to learn, teach, and work to their fullest potential. The School is also committed to increasing diversity within the profession.
The School demonstrates this commitment through activities in teaching, research and public engagement, ongoing support for student and alumni organizations and special programs for minority students.
In studio classes, lectures and seminars, students are introduced to the traditions and architectural needs of diverse populations. In the junior year, at least one studio project focuses on issues of accessibility. In advanced studios, emphasis is placed on learning about the specific needs and expectations of users. Studios associated with the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP) allow students to interact directly with residents of economically distressed communities. The School also offers elective courses in Gender and Race in Contemporary Architecture, Social and Behavioral Research in Designed Environments and History of World Landscapes.
Undergraduates are required to take a course in non-western traditions or U.S. minority cultures as part of the campus-wide General Education requirements. Graduate students are encouraged to take additional courses that further explore the needs of special populations in the departments of sociology, anthropology and psychology and the College of Education.
Our many international study programs allow students to gain a richer perspective on foreign cultures and become aware of their own cultural assumptions.
Several faculty members are actively involved in research dealing with issues of diversity, community building, and non-western architectural traditions.
Professor Kathryn H. Anthony has been honored by the AIA for her comprehensive study Designing for Diversity: Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the Architectural Profession. Additionally, she is active is national discussions about studio culture, and in finding ways to make the culture of architectural education less intimidating. Her book, Design Juries on Trial, was cited frequently in the American Institute of Architecture Students’ study for improving studio culture.
Professor Lynne Dearborn has also been recognized by the AIA for her interdisciplinary studio through the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP). Her areas of specialization are in community design and environmental behavior research.
Professors Botond Bognar and Kurt Baumgartner are both experts on contemporary Japanese Architecture. Professor Baumgartner worked in the office of Kenzo Tange for 6 years. Professor Bognar has authored several monographs on contemporary Japanese architects and a guide to recent architecture in Tokyo.
Professor Emeritus Jim Warfield is a world traveler who regularly brings his passion for the diverse traditions of vernacular architecture back to Champaign through exhibits at the School and at the college’s I-space Gallery in Chicago. His bi-annual summer program in China introduces a select group of students to traditional and contemporary traditions in Chinese architecture and landscape design.
Through the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP) and the Building Research Council (BRC) the School’s students and faculty actively engage with challenged communities, reinvigorate aging housing stock and assist traditionally underserved populations. ESLARP addresses immediate and long-term needs of distressed neighborhoods in the city of East St. Louis, Illinois by engaging volunteers to apply both labor and creativity. The Building Research Council initiated HUD’s Healthy Home program in low-income areas of Chicago and has developed the Lead Hazard Reduction Program for low-income neighborhoods across the state.
Student and Alumni Organizations
The School of Architecture supports strong a strong local chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) which is open to students from all backgrounds. The NOMAS chapter hosts an annual symposium during the spring semester addressing issues related to minorities in the profession and attracting national speakers. The School and campus provide financial support for this event.
The Women in Architecture organization provides opportunities for students to provide mutual support and meet with successful female academics and professionals in the design fields.
All student organizations work together to organize programs to increase diversity and inclusivity.
Recently, a research project was performed to record the recollections of African-American alumni and improve communications and programming for this group.
Minority Student Support Programs
The University’s Office of Minority Student Affairs assists the School of Architecture and other campus programs in sustaining a welcoming and supportive learning environment for undergraduate minority students.
OMSA provides guidance and counseling support to minority students in all areas relevant to their persistence and success on the campus, including general adjustment, financial aid, and career selection. Particular emphasis is provided on assisting students who are academically under-prepared or come from backgrounds underrepresented on the campus.
OMSA promotes and develops educational opportunities and enrichment activities to help facilitate the educational and personal growth of minority students through organized activities and collaborative efforts with other Student Affairs and campus units.
At the graduate level, the Graduate College Office of Minority Affairs serves as a central point of contact for information regarding the participation of underrepresented groups in graduate programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition, the office provides advice to graduate students about our graduate programs and policies and also participates in outreach activities. The Director of the Office of Minority Affairs works with the assistant and associate deans of the Graduate College as well as with representatives from academic units in providing these services.
The Graduate College operates two summer programs, the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) and the Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute (SPI). These programs attract minority students to campus and introduce them to university life, and to career opportunities in higher education.
SROP provides research experiences for students from underrepresented groups interested in graduate study and in an opportunity to explore careers in research and teaching. The program at UIUC provides each participant with information and experiences that help to build the knowledge and skills necessary to gain admission to graduate school. The many opportunities offered through the SROP allow participants to establish important relationships with faculty in their respective fields of study, conduct graduate-level research under the supervision of one of UIUC's renowned faculty members, become acquainted with the culture of graduate school, and learn what is needed and expected as a graduate student in their discipline.
The purpose of the Summer Pre-doctoral Institute (SPI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is to provide incoming underrepresented minority graduate students with an experience that will help them succeed in their graduate studies. The SPI encourages the rapid acclimation to the campus, and to the respective departments, graduate school culture, and the requirements of the specific disciplines of the participants. Architecture students accepted to participate in the SPI become acquainted with graduate life on campus by: 1) working closely with Graduate College administrators, 2) meeting and working with faculty and advisors in the School of Architecture, 3) learning necessary skills for a successful graduate school experience in architecture, and 4) interacting with their peers within the academic community.