The Department of Landscape Architecture recognizes the value that diverse perspectives brings to professional education and scholarly endeavor. Accordingly, we are committed to improving our recruitment and retention of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff from groups that are historically underrepresented in our department and profession.
We have identified the following strengths in the department and recognize that we should build on these assets as we improve our efforts to increase the diversity of our applicant pool and to improve the retention of current students, faculty and staff.
- Faculty research and teaching addresses a broad range of issues relevant to the needs and concerns of underprivileged and/or underrepresented communities.
- Outreach to K–12 is already a strong part of our studio curriculum and the subject of research of several faculty members thus expanding the community that understands what landscape architects do and what the profession offers.
- Faculty members lecture and serve as guest reviewers in programs around the world offering opportunities to reach out to potential applicants from multiple and diverse places, cultures and backgrounds
- Our faculty is a diverse body of scholars, practitioners and teachers comprised of tenure-track academics as well as adjunct and affiliated faculty members and lecturers that come from the profession and practice.
- Community service-learning is a major component of our BLA and MLA curricula. Through service-learning studios, students and faculty work with underprivileged communities where they interact with community members including parents and youths and engage in cross-cultural learning.
- Studios and courses are offered that focus on social equity in local communities thus bringing all students into discussions of social, economic and environmental justice and equity.
Justice + Equity Task Force Dept Recommendations | Autumn 2021 Update
Through the 2020-21 academic year, department faculty, staff and student leaders engaged with the Justice + Equity Task Force Recommendations (below), moving forward several initiatives to center justice and equity in the department’s work. This report documents completed actions and activities as well as future activities identified through conversation among faculty, staff and student leaders.
Justice + Equity Task Force Departmental Recommendations
During the summer of 2020, a group of UWLA students, alumni, and local professionals created this document to identify opportunities within the Landscape Architecture Department “to take an anti-racist stance and build a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.”
UW President Ana Mari Cauce launched a Race and Equity Initiative in Spring 2015 with a challenge: that all of us — students, faculty, staff and university leadership — take personal responsibility for addressing our own biases and improving our university culture.
The President‘s message on diversity is noted online as follows:
Diversity is an inherent ingredient in an excellent education. To help the University of Washington reach even higher among the nation’s foremost universities, we must continue to do all we can to create a diverse academic community.
An educational experience that fails to expose students — majority and minority — to multicultural perspectives or that does not include interaction in a diverse community simply cannot measure up. All students leaving the university have to be able to take their places in the global village. We must continue to build a multicultural academic community because it is an inherent ingredient in an excellent education.
The University of Washington has an extensive infrastructure of offices, initiatives, and centers committed to diversity, equal opportunity, and affirmative action. For an overview of the resources available to students, faculty and staff, see the university’s web news and links at Diversity at UW.
The University of Washington operates within a legal framework established by Initiative-200 (I-200) approved by Washington voters in 1998. I-200 states in part: “This initiative prohibits government from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, or public contracting.” Besides the state law, the university conforms to federal regulations regarding affirmative action and equal employment opportunity. The meshing of these two apparently contradictory laws has been a complex process for all Washington’s public institutions.
In light of this the University has looked to address diversity by expanding the application pool as noted by President Emmert in 2007, “What we discovered at Washington was that there are other ways to ensure diversity and access to higher education, particularly by taking socioeconomic factors into account. One essential element was undertaking an intensive effort to encourage more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to the university.”
In a similar vein, the introductory statement on the UW website of the Vice-President and Vice Provost of Diversity and Minority Affairs gives a sense of the breadth of commitment by the university and the range of resources available for students.
“At the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, we view all areas of diversity – student, faculty and staff diversity, curriculum, research, outreach, climate – as intertwined and interdependent. Embracing a transformational approach to diversity, we offer a full spectrum of programs that address change in curriculum, research, student and community service that work toward excellence in these areas.”
Here are a few of the resources available to undergraduate and graduate students of diverse backgrounds at the University of Washington:
- The Disability Resources for Students (DRS) unit is dedicated to ensuring access and inclusion for all students with disabilities on the Seattle campus.
- The Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center is part of The Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity. The Kelly ECC has a wealth of resources and opportunities available to students including student advising, organizational development, personal growth, and referrals to different departments and programs.
- The wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Intellectual House is a longhouse-style facility on the UW Seattle campus. It provides a multi-service learning and gathering space for Native American students, faculty and staff, as well as others from various cultures and communities to come together in a welcoming environment to share knowledge.
- Leadership Without Borders (LWB) works to serve and empower undocumented students at the University of Washington. LWB offers leadership development resources, college success navigators, the Husky Lending Library, a space for community building, and connections to other campus and community resources.
- The University of Washington Q Center is the professionally-supported resource, advocacy, and mentoring center for queer students and concerns at the University of Washington. It provides consulting for various departments on campus with regards to bolstering safety and respect for queer students, and also coordinates numerous programs, social organizations, and educational initiatives.
- The University of Washington Veterans Education Benefits office serves military veterans and their dependents during their time as students at the UW.
- The Women’s Center welcomes both women and men of all ages. It has a vital mission to build a culture of gender equity on our campus, in our community and around the world. The programs of the center promote access to excellence and inspires students and community members to achieve their educational and life aspirations.
- The Associate Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) is the democratic voice of students that engages the campus community through programming, services and advocacy. ASUW is comprised of 25 units, many of which aim to serve students from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds.
For Graduate Students:
- The Graduate School supports diversity and inclusiveness at the University of Washington in multiple and innovative ways: from support of students and departments to programming to advocacy to fostering conversation and dialogue.
- The Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP) is at the heart of the Graduate School’s commitment to expanding graduate education to everyone, with events and programming are geared toward underrepresented minority graduate students and students of color.
Information on the College of Built Environments Race & Equity Initiative.
Other diversity initiatives and resources around the university can be found at www.washington.edu/diversity.
Other resources and links on diversity in landscape and design professions:
CBE Dean Renee Cheng is a project manager and author on the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice which aim to provide understanding and build equity in the architecture profession.
The ASLA Diversity Summit is an annual convening of landscape architects with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of how landscape architecture can better represent the communities and people it serves.
ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network aims to provide a forum for ASLA members involved in environmental justice and to support the profession in pursuing goals of environmental justice.
Women in Landscape Architecture (WILA) is an ASLA professional practice network that focuses on the experience and contributions of women in the profession.
Scholarships and resources for diverse students
The EDSA Minority Scholarship is a $5000 annual award established to help African American, Hispanic, Native American and minority students of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds continue their landscape architecture education.