Tree with red and orange leaves in front of Marvin Hall

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

Statement on a Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Community

The School of Architecture & Design is dedicated to an inclusive, diverse and equitable learning, teaching and working environment for its community of students, staff and faculty. We believe that the process of design is elevated when differences are respected, ideas are shared and people are connected. We recognize that all people should have a say in the creation of their own environment. 

As we aspire to advance the culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at the School of Architecture and Design, we will do so within the framework laid out by the University. This task demands a collaborative approach and one that integrates culturally competent protocols and policies in our everyday ideas, thinking and practices. 


Get Involved

Whether you are a student, staff, or faculty member, there are many ways to get involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion groups on campus and in the greater Lawrence area.

Student Organizations

There are hundreds of student organizations at KU, and several that focus on social identities and interests. Find groups based on ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality, activism, and more.

Get Support

We are committed to helping all Jayhawks get the support they need. Whatever your situation may be, there are resources on campus and in the community to support you.

DEIB Toolbox

The DEIB Toolbox provides support for efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging—in your department or unit, and throughout the KU campus.

DEIB Goals

Growth of a diverse student body at the school is linked to generating awareness and interest in the design professions among high/middle school students of predominantly underrepresented populations. Several pathway programs are established for this purpose. To build a socially diverse community of faculty and staff, the School follows KU’s guidelines in recruiting faculty and staff.

Having recruited students from historically underrepresented and underserved populations, the school’s mission is then to ensure that students receive necessary support to thrive in their education, gain necessary skills to become competent designers, develop confidence in themselves, and receive guidance for professional development. A more critical aspect of this goal is to maintain a high rate of retention of minority students within their respective degree programs and to help them graduate in time. This goal could be achieved in terms of financial support and academic mentoring the students receive to address historical disparities and inequalities in economic and opportunity equities that they have encountered.

Design education as well as design professions have predominantly been Euro-centric, racialized, and patriarchal for centuries. Our studios and courses should create learning and creative opportunities that facilitate students to be informed of such biases in the social history of our design professions and design education. Designing curricula with attention to DEIB in design education thus means that students receive opportunities to learn about, value, and respect a broader spectrum of non-western and multicultural histories, experiences, and approaches to design the built environment, visual media, and products. They should learn how policies, practices, and products associated with design professions could be means of social discrimination, underpinned by political intentions geared toward social injustice. Students should be conscious of designing inclusive and universal spaces, media, and products for all groups of people. Understanding the privileged status that design disciplines have in the larger society should also help students to learn about how to engage the values, needs, and views of the underprivileged in the design process.

It is the collective responsibility of students, staff, and faculty to create a positive and supportive climate at the school. When we all are engaged in the creative activities together and we all feel valued and respected, a strong sense of belonging among all as a single school community will emerge. Feeling being included and a part of the school community is the outcome of all DEI initiatives.

Diversity Alliance

The school has formed the Diversity Alliance, a group of firms that recognize the lack of diversity within our profession, feel an urgency to address the issue, and have the desire to support the school’s efforts in this area. 

Diversity Alliance firms: 3RE Partners, New York; BRR Architects, Kansas City; Kwame Building Group, St. Louis; M+H Architects, St. Louis; Mackey Mitchell Architects, St. Louis; Odimo, Kansas City.

More Info

Hands interacting with a architectural model

Initiatives & Opportunities

  • Annual Summer Design Camps
  • Design Workshops and Design Foundations Curriculum for high/middle school teachers
  • Outreach to high/middle schools and community colleges in the region with large minority student populations
  • Collaborations with community partners such as Public-School Districts in the region, NOMA-KC, AIA-Wichita, and 20/20 Leadership Program in Kansas City for developing pipeline programs
  • Multicultural Architecture Scholars Program (MASP)
  • Multicultural Design Scholars Program (MDSP)
  • Kwame Study Abroad Scholarships for African American architecture students
  • Academic/Career mentoring and access to mental health counseling
  • Student Success Programs such as Peer Mentoring, Portfolio Review, and Mock Interviews
  • Learning opportunities with immersive multicultural experiences and community engagement 
  • Developing specific courses on design ethics/design justice
  • Integrating DEI content in classroom/studio activities
  • Offering co-curricular activities that introduce students to discourses on design justice
  • Kivett Faculty Development Fund for teaching and research into DEIB in architecture
  • Opportunities to develop sensitivity and awareness on DEIB issues
  • Listening sessions with student groups, staff, and faculty
  • Financial support for activities organized by student groups
  • Effective faculty/staff mentoring and professional development
Design campers manipulate paper model