College of Design awarded for diversity, inclusion projects

Professors from the School of Architecture received awards for their work focusing on bringing diversity to the classroom and community.

<p>Rapson Hall, home of the College of Design, on the University's Minneapolis campus on Tuesday, Feb. 18. </p>

Andy Kosier

Rapson Hall, home of the College of Design, on the University's Minneapolis campus on Tuesday, Feb. 18. 

Abbey Machtig

The University of Minnesota’s College of Design is focusing on advancing equity, diversity and inclusion into the classroom for students and faculty.

Through faculty and student research, course curriculum, guest lecturers and community projects, leaders within the college will continue to place emphasis on the integration of these concepts. On Jan. 29, professors from the School of Architecture were recognized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture for their work that brought these college-wide goals to fruition.

“[With this work] students enact our collegiate values of diversity, collaboration, excellence, flexibility, and the self-awareness needed for ongoing learning,” said College of Design Dean Carol Strohecker in an email to the Minnesota Daily. “They are well prepared to transform and create places that welcome and equitably host broader ranges of people, an essential turn as our culture becomes increasingly global.” 

Recognized for her research on accessibility for those with disabilities and the preservation of historic sites, College of Design professor Gail Dubrow was recognized as a distinguished professor by the ACSA. Her work includes the publication of a series of journals and letters documenting historic Japanese American architecture.

“As a teacher, I aim to connect students’ identities with their values and work in the world … As a women, feminist and an out lesbian, my ideas are driven by equity and diversity, which are animating forces in my work,” Dubrow said. “I encourage all students to explore how life experiences, identities and values can lead them to doing original and important work in the world.”

Jacob Mans, an assistant professor in the School of Architecture, received an award for completing research early on during his teaching career. He was recognized for his work on affordable housing in communities and the ways in which universities interact with them. 

“Given everything that we are dealing with issues of diversity, the context for education is different than it has been. We shouldn’t accept existing models — the best way to prepare students is to teach how to engage and interact with communities,” Mans said.

Mans also developed a series of lectures presented within the College of Design on the topics of inclusion and exclusion in relation to the field of design. Additionally, Mans traveled to Puerto Rico as part of a University effort to study energy alternatives following natural disasters. 

“[I have] a community and outreach focus in teaching and research; how can design figure into community engagement and structure?” Mans said.

Looking ahead, the College of Design will continue to pursue initiatives related to diversity and community building, Dubrow said.

“What I value about the University is the outright commitment to increase equity and diversity,” Dubrow said. “There are really important places within the University ecosystem where great things are happening.”