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About the Racial Equity and Anti-Racism (REA) Fund

The GSD’s Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund was established in September 2020 to raise awareness of how race, racism, and racial injustice affect society—especially by and through design professions—and to promote a culture of anti-racism at the GSD. The REA Fund is the first of its kind to support racial equity and anti-racism at Harvard University and is unique for a design school.

The fund seeks stakeholders from around the GSD to consider the sorts of programming and dialogue that have been missing, to suggest solutions, and to consider how the GSD can strengthen policies and practices to promote a culture of anti-racism. It has also prioritized the need for immediate or accelerated change alongside longer-term, ongoing work connecting design and anti-racist practice.

Strategies that work at the individual, departmental, and/or institutional level are supported and current GSD faculty, researchers, staff, and students are eligible to apply. By prioritizing the need for immediate or accelerated change alongside longer-term, ongoing work, the fund connects design and anti-racist practice.

Information for GSD community members on eligibility and criteria is available on the Office for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging’s webpage.

REA Fund Supporters

You can read more about the fund and the generous support from GSD alumni and friends in this 2020-2021 Giving Report story.

REA Fund Recipients

The inaugural REA Fund projects, ranging from the individual to the institutional, have come to fruition in recent months, illustrating the diversity and depth of inquiry the fund has supported.

Event poster for GSD NOMAS conversation on the use of technology in design as an avenue towards racial justice featuring headshots of Marisa Parham and Michelle Chang.Technology as Racial Justice

Omotara Oluwafemi MArch ’22 collaborated with Idael Cárdenas MArch ’22 to plan the February 2022 panel discussion “The Use of Technology in Design as an Avenue Towards Racial Justice,” focusing on digitally-driven design narratives, technology, and mechanisms and how these dynamics intersect with questions and matters of race in design.

“Access to technology, like the internet and the devices through which we interact with it, are susceptible to the racial disparities that affect our physical environments and social structures,” says Oluwafemi. “In creating digital spaces, we have to begin to reinterpret accessibility and equity as terms that also apply to the virtual realm.”

A Moratorium on New Construction to Disrupt the Design Paradigm

Assistant Professor of Urban Design Charlotte Malterre-Barthes has shaped pedagogy and research around urgent aspects of global urbanization, addressing questions of how disadvantaged communities can gain access to political and economic resources as well as to ecological and social justice. Last spring, Malterre-Barthes engaged the REA Fund to organize the April 23 panel discussion “Stop Construction? A Global Moratorium on New Construction” with panelists Arno Brandlhuber, Cynthia Deng, Elif Erez, Noboru Kawagishi, Omar Nagati, Sarah Nichols, Beth Stryker, and Ilze Wolff.

“Controversy is inherent to the debate [over new construction], just like with growth in general—namely, how can nations with a consolidated building stock tell others they should not build further?” Malterre-Barthes says. “We also need to avoid falling into ‘academic extraction’ ourselves as we take on these debates. This means the conversation needs to be absolutely plural, something the REA Fund helped us achieve.”

Images from “Stop Construction? A Global Moratorium on New Construction”

To read more project highlights, please see this article on the GSD website.

DIB Annual Reports

The mission of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging is to cultivate and sustain an environment at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) that increases diversity, deepens inclusion, and advances a sense of belonging among students, faculty, staff, and our extended community. In alignment with that mission, we seek to advance our work and mark our movement using data-driven and evidence-based approaches to diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

The DIB Annual Report serves as a step towards creating a shared understanding of the progress, partnerships, and initiatives of the Office since its formation in February 2019. View the reports.