Created collaboratively by members of the RISD community, NEXT: RISD 2020–2027 (PDF) proposes how we intend to educate students for the future and bring our current creative practices to bear on today’s most critical social, political and environmental challenges.
Since beginning implementation of the seven-year strategic plan in spring 2019, we have made considerable progress toward our goals. To see what we have accomplished together in that time, continue below. We also invite you to read our two-year progress report for next steps, priorities and more details.
We will help shape more just societies
We will engage in building more democratic and equitable societies by increasing access and diversity, decolonizing curricula, pioneering research on issues of social equity and art, supporting faculty and staff development, developing cohesive community engagement practices and engaging with alumni.
Advances through June 2021:
- The Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI) is founded in 2019, providing leadership in advancing our 2017 SEI Plan.
- The SEI Research and Teaching Fellowship brings scholars, artists and designers to RISD to teach courses and conduct research that advances our engagement with issues of social equity and inclusion.
- The Teaching and Learning Lab leads several initiatives toward installing a decolonized and anti-racist education model across the academic curriculum.
- An SEI Faculty Committee advances work to build a multiyear curricular structure with required coursework focused on social equity and inclusion, as well as develop an interdisciplinary curriculum focused on decoloniality and race in art and design.
- The RISD Museum deaccessions the sculpture Head of a King (Oba) toward repatriation to Benin, its place of origin, and pivots its priorities to focus on representation of BIPOC artists and cultures.
- Record financial aid and scholarship funding increases access to a RISD education for incoming students.
- A cluster search for experts on race and decolonization in art and design yields successful recruitment of 10 new faculty members across all four academic divisions.
- New job search and hiring practices result in significant increase in racially diverse faculty and staff hires.
- Adoption of test-optional application process reduces benefits of social privilege in admissions evaluations.
- SEI funding programs open access to full benefits of a RISD education to students with demonstrated financial need.
- Alumni engagement increases with launch of new benefit programs, communication vehicles and networking opportunities.
- Health and counseling services are integrated under leadership of inaugural executive director of health and wellness, greatly increasing student access to services.
- The Center for Community Partnerships is launched in spring 2021 to incorporate community engagement work across campus and create more cohesive practices.
- A new, on-campus pre-orientation program is established to prepare first-generation college students to succeed in all facets of their RISD experience.
We will address sustainability
We will steward sustainable practices and work toward environmental and climate justice by building and renovating facilities in line with sustainable principles, infusing sustainability into the curriculum, and bringing art and design to the challenge of climate change through research and inquiry.
Advances through June 2021:
- An endowed professorship in sustainability is established to develop institution-wide initiatives at the intersection of art, design and environmental justice.
- Society of Professional Fellows program will annually fund three graduate students in Architecture or Industrial Design with interest in addressing sustainability issues.
- The Landscape Architecture department partners with URI’s Marine Affairs department on a joint graduate program on coastal sustainability.
- The campus’ central power plant is upgraded with new, efficient equipment to reduce energy consumption and costs.
- Massive lightbulb replacement project results in 50% reduction of annual kilowatt hours.
- Investments in solar energy directly supports development of solar power in Rhode Island and significant decrease in fossil fuel consumption.
- Sustainability measures are embedded in the construction of North Hall, RISD’s first new student residence in 30 years, resulting in demonstrably low water and energy usage.
We will contribute new knowledge
We will address complex issues, contribute new ideas and enhance human understanding by introducing innovative curricula and pedagogy, redefining graduate education at RISD, increasing institutional research output, enhancing academic facilities and equipment, and creating more flexibility for faculty inquiry.
Advances through June 2021:
- The Teaching and Learning Lab launches in 2019 to provide peer-to-peer learning opportunities in support of faculty professional development.
- The Office of Research grows under the leadership of RISD’s inaugural associate provost for research and strategic partnerships and newly hired director of research, expanding and enhancing support for faculty research.
- RISD Expanded Education (RISD EE) is established in 2021 to bring RISD’s approach to inquiry and creative practice to a wide range of professionals.
- Several multiyear, global partnerships are established through RISD Partnered Projects, including with Hyundai Motor Group, IBM and Infosys, generating $7 million in revenue since 2019, alongside individual faculty partnerships.
- The Society of Presidential Fellows, our first-ever fully funded graduate fellowship, enhances inquiry at RISD through graduate study and increases access to advanced degree programs.
- Roster of graduate programs expands with the launch of a Master of Arts in Design Engineering joint program with Brown University and a new Master of Fine Arts in Illustration.
- A space planning study begun in 2019 identifies design strategies for improving facilities for six academic departments, with initial upgrades to the Metcalf Building beginning in 2021.
- The RISD Museum’s Helen and Jesse Metcalf Galleries are renovated, allowing the museum to reinterpret its collections and expand gallery space.
- Technology and systems upgrades enhance RISD’s capacity for offering coursework digitally.
This report outlines the first two years of progress in implementing NEXT: RISD 2020–2027, our seven-year strategic plan. It details the specific work we’ve done to generate new knowledge and address issues of social justice and sustainability, key operational and financial improvements, and next steps for advancing the plan.
Questions and feedback
If you have questions or thoughts about our strategic plan and vision for RISD, we want to hear from you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acknowledging that systemic racism harms all members of our community and is at odds with RISD’s values, the college and museum have committed to a series of proactively anti-racist action steps. The latest initiatives are inspired by the student-led RISD Anti-Racism Coalition (risdARC) and a group of BIPOC faculty members instigating much-needed change. RISD’s evolving Social Equity and Inclusion Action Plan details important steps members of our community are taking to ensure that we uphold core principles of equity, inclusion, access, agency and mutual respect, and that these values define our campus culture.
Starting in 2012, the RISD community set out on a master plan process in support of the college's 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. Rather than taking a 20th century approach to master planning, developing a static list of projects, RISD chose to develop a set of dynamic and responsive tools calibrated to sustain long-term core values, principles and policies. This master plan was designed to persist through future changes in leadership, economic variability, and pedagogical and technological advances.
RISD students and recent alums are using funding from RISD Research to develop interdisciplinary projects with communities around the world.
Project Open Door students are back on campus this summer, trying their hands at everything from textiles to toy design in long-running RISD program.
RISD students and recent grads are using design thinking skills to support positive change in Africa, Asia and North and South America.
RISD Architecture students participating in the Envision Resilience Challenge draw up radical plans in response to projected sea-level rise in Warren, RI.
Landscape Architecture students develop environmentally just proposals for managing sea-level rise in the Narragansett Bay as part of the Envision Resilience Challenge.
Juniors Gina Vestuti and Yukti Agarwal are using grants awarded by RISD Research to document the work of blues musicians in the US and traditional weavers in India.
RISD’s Center for Complexity uses the studio process of inquiry, iteration and innovation to envision novel solutions to the nationwide problem.
Liberal Arts faculty members reflect on the inaugural years of RISD’s Global Arts and Cultures MA program.
Get to know RISD
Learn more about President Crystal Williams and the RISD leaders who steward our mission and strategic plan.
Look back at how RISD’s commitment to art and design education has evolved since our 1877 founding.
Track our progress in creating an equitable, inclusive and proactively anti-racist RISD.