What are the possible futures of graduate Architecture Urban Studios, especially “travelling” or “global” studios? The climate emergency demands we construct a new kind of non-traveling global studio experience, and from our perspective at Parsons School of Design, how do we provide a deeper understanding of the American City to our global student body?

This project emerged during a hopeful moment following the 2018 congressional elections in the U.S., and the emerging discussion of a Green New Deal. We have drawn from another moment of hope during the early years of the Obama administration, and have titled our new initiative Infrastructures of Inclusion. By infrastructures we mean both physical and social, major and minor, things and the relationships between them, patterns and processes.

In 2010 together with five partner institutions in the U.S. and Europe, we were awarded an Atlantis Transatlantic Exchange Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education and European Commission. Katholic University Leuven, Eindoven University and the University of Venice were the European partners, and in an attempt to develop new inclusive urban practices in the U.S. we partnered with Morgan State University, a Historically Black College in Baltimore, and the public university closest to the border with Mexico, the University of California, San Diego. We sought to include in our faculty and student participants direct knowledge of the African American and immigrant experiences of inclusion and exclusion in the American City.

Today we are here to celebrate both the successes and failures of this experimental program. The successes are easy to see in the archive of work and discussions between the years from 2010 and 2014, but also in the alumni network that is represented on this blog. The failures are also easy to recognize. As a result of structural separations and segmentations of institutions, public and private, black and white, we were only able to include a few students from San Diego in the exchange program. We started this effort do better and to see how we can build better infrastructures of inclusion by expanding our network of partner institutions.

Myself, I was deeply affected by both the successes and failures of the program. From 2013 to 2016 I served as the Dean of the School of Constructed Environments and endeavored to put equity, diversity and inclusion as the highest priorities through a multiyear Feminism in Architecture with Peggy Deamer, a public program “unpacking diversity” with Yolande Daniels, and the establishment of two new faculty lines in design and diversity and architecture and social practice.

It is with renewed hope that under our new University Leadership with President Dwight McBride, the New School has just established a Center for Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice. We hope today to provide new avenues for Infrastrctures of Inclusion to be an important part of this new institutional effort.

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