Addressing ACSA’s Core Values as We Look to the Future of Architecture
The academic year is just beginning, but the ACSA Board and Program Committees are already at work. In early August we held an (almost) fully in-person board meeting and committee summit in Washington, DC, where we organized our work for the coming year and welcomed new board members Cathi Ho Schar (University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Second Vice President), Shelby Doyle (Iowa State University, At Large Director), Marcelo López-Dinardi (Texas A&M University, At Large Director), and Nicole Bass (AIAS, Student Director). Mo Zell (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee) moves into the position of First Vice President and Robert Gonzalez (University of New Mexico) remains on the board one more year as our Past President. I want to take this opportunity to thank Robert, his predecessors Lynne Dearborn (University of Illinois Urbana Champaign) and Rashida Ng (University of Pennsylvania), along with ACSA Executive Director, Michael Monti, the three ACSA Directors Danielle Dent, Eric Ellis, and Kendall Nicholson, and the ACSA Staff Michelle Sturges, Edwin Hernandez, Heather Albarazi, and Abel Chanyalew (as well as the staff who have moved on to other exciting opportunities) for bringing us through the daunting work necessitated by the pandemic both financially and organizationally secure.
The ACSA’s operations, public fora, and publications went off smoothly in virtual and occasionally hybrid space, and we learned new ways to conduct business and achieve fellowship. Yet meeting in DC last month reminded me how important it is to come together in space, in person. Participating together in meals, walks, and museum visits; seeing and being in great cities, landscapes, and works of architecture; and giving focused attention to one another progresses our ideas, creates new alliances and friendships, and helps us set priorities. ACSA will continue to conduct its work in multiple modalities to advance goals of sustainability and accessibility, but I do hope to see as many of you as possible at our upcoming in person events.
A signature accomplishment of the 2021-2022 academic year was the development and implementation of ACSA’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan. Thank you to everyone who participated in our planning process through surveys, town halls, and committee work. The new Strategic Plan reinforces our ongoing commitment to racial and social justice and links these directly to a call for climate action. With these we recognize architecture’s longstanding entanglement with injustices perpetrated through the built environment and complicity in environmental degradation. Through our programming—conferences, webinars, competitions, and fellowship opportunities—and our publications—TAD and JAE—members will see increased opportunities for engaging in actions and activities that foreground curricular reform and research on architecture’s role in climate change.
This year’s conference will pursue many of the themes discussed above:
The ongoing collaboration between the AIA and ACSA on building academic and practice-based research in response to the impact of accelerating climate change on the built environment and in our communities
A discussion around building diverse pathways into and out of our classrooms and strengthening our commitment to expanding routes into teaching and academic leadership in the context of growing challenges to higher education
Addressing the urgent need to clarify the societal mission of architectural education in a time of grand challenges amidst a climate crisis, social inequality, rapid urbanization, pandemics, and wars that operate locally and at a global scale.
In future notes I will introduce you to the work of this year’s Program Committees. Over the course of the year, they will be interacting with ACSA membership through conference panels, webinars, surveys, and focus groups.
The past two-plus years have been exhausting, but they have allowed us to set new and renew important personal and professional priorities. In conversations I have had with many ACSA colleagues over this time, I have heard not only of the accommodations we have made by moving our classrooms and studios online, but also of the ways in which having to rethink our pedagogies and confront the limitations of our curricula in light of impossible to ignore climate change impacts and calls for racial justice have accelerated important and necessary changes to architectural education. I have already held my first class this fall and am excited by the questions my students are asking of me and of the education they are receiving. They are well-aligned with ACSA’s core values of advancing equity, social justice, and climate action through architectural pedagogy and research. I look forward to continuing this important work with all of you this coming year and into the future.
Founded in 1912 by 10 charter members, ACSA is an international association of architecture schools preparing future architects, designers, and change agents. Our membership includes all of the accredited professional degree programs in the United States and Canada, as well as international schools and 2- and 4-year programs. Together ACSA schools represent some 7,000 faculty educating more than 40,000 students.
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