Highlights include: Student activism spurs leadership to take major steps toward a more equitable and inclusive RISD. The initial Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI) Action Plan lays out initiatives in progress and future commitments to SEI principles. RISD launches the Center for SEI, which leads initiatives that foster diversity, equity and inclusion within and beyond the institution.
- RISD established the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI), with the stated mission to “foster a more inclusive and equitable institutional culture, and an engaged, locally and globally conscious campus community.” The center supports cross-institutional initiatives, like our in-house Teaching and Learning Lab, that promote inquiry, research, and creative contributions to the cause of social equity and inclusion at RISD and in the world.”
- Among its first initiatives, the Center for SEI:
- founded the Teaching and Learning Lab, which, by promoting a culture of reflective teaching and ongoing faculty development, supports faculty in developing curricula and pedagogical practices that are both innovative and inclusive.
- launched two fellows programs—the SEI Research Fellows Program and the Diversity Fellows Program. The programs bring to RISD scholars whose teaching and research advances issues of social equity and inclusion in their fields.
- In 2019 we published Next: 2020–2027, our seven-year strategic plan, which includes as its first pillar our commitment to help shaping more just societies. Among other pledges, this pillar of the strategic plan calls for the first cohort of a faculty fellows program to focus on issues related to social equity and inclusion, and plans for the RISD Museum and the Fleet Library to “develop, preserve and interpret” their collections in order to elevate marginalized voices and bring to light stories of and contributions made by underrepresented people and groups.
- We increased funding for scholarships and need-based financial aid by 5.3%. This allowed us to provide more than $21.9 million in aid to students—at that time the most aid offered to students in RISD’s history. We also provided a financial aid award to all eligible admitted students.
- In fall 2017, President Rosanne Somerson released our initial Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI) Action Plan. The document laid out initiatives in progress as well as future commitments to enhancing equity and inclusion at RISD.
- Also in the fall, we launched a national search for RISD’s first-ever vice president for SEI, to guide and coordinate all related efforts.
- Per the SEI plan, all academic and staff units across the institution developed individual action plans to address social equity and inclusion internally and to support broader institutional efforts.
- Also per the plan, we enhanced financial support for the social equity fund programs established in 2016.
- Through demonstrations other forms of campus activism, the student organization RISD Black Artists and Designers (BAAD) and fellow students spurred campus leaders to take necessary steps toward improving equity and inclusion on campus.
- Fundraising began in order to fuel social equity funds in support of students with added financial need. Specific funds provided money for purchasing materials, travel and study abroad opportunities and internships, as well as a mentorship program for first-generation students.
- Academic Affairs oversaw efforts to implement new courses that centered issues of equity, inclusion and diversity within the context of art and design practice.
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