As planners, we are supposed to represent the public interest. But ensuring that this representation truly reflects a diverse public with uneven access to power can be challenging. Addressing this challenge is the mission of Plan for All, a subcommittee of the Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) student governing body, Planners Forum. We aim to bring greater awareness of social justice issues like inclusivity, equity, and diversity within DCRP and the broader planning profession.
What does that look like, exactly?
- Plan for All hosts a Brown Bag series featuring speakers who discuss issues related to race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, and more.
- We have “informal conversations” and film screenings to foster dialog among students on equity and diversity.
- We established a review of DCRP curricula that examines how well course topics address social equity and inclusion and how well authorship of required readings reflects a diversity of experiences.
- We created an award that recognizes outstanding student and faculty research related to Plan for All’s mission.
Along with this ongoing work, we held an exciting event at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. The “Community Conversation” was a workshop that brought together more than two dozen students, faculty, and staff to discuss how we can make DCRP a more inclusive and engaged community. Groups collaborated to identify challenges, goals, and strategies to create positive change related to four focus areas: classroom environment, curriculum, outreach and admissions, and the larger political climate. Here are some of the takeaways that emerged from the event:
Although our first Community Conversation was planned as a one-time event, we hope to continue holding these discussions on a regular basis to ensure that DCRP has an effective feedback loop with regards to our diversity and inclusivity. We are excited to explore some of the strategies developed during the workshop and experiment with implementing them within DCRP this year.
We are even more excited to welcome the new class of planners to their first year in DCRP and learn from all the new insights and experiences flowing into our department! There is plenty of work ahead of us to move DCRP closer to our vision of a department that critiques injustice in both theory and practice, fights for social equity, and includes a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff. If you’re into these things too, check us out on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved!