Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Educators, Industry Professionals, Practitioners, and Community Members:
It has become increasingly evident that necessary changes need to happen within design and architectural education, as well as the institutions they reside in. In the face of a rapidly changing world, students and educators have a duty to understand, learn from, and respond. When we take the time to be critical of global changes, it is clear that design education and professions have failed to take action against injustices which we knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate. Recognizing this and taking responsibility in design's inherent role is an important step to ensure positive progression and change within the industry and ultimately within our communities.
Who we are
Advocates for Equitable Design Education (AEDE) is a student-run collective at the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Landscape, and Planning (SAPL), which is dedicated to the advancement of critical pedagogy in design and recovery of dialogues minimized in current design practices. We actively challenge hegemonic perspectives, holding accountable this educational institution to engage meaningfully with issues of equity and inclusion.
What we do
We aim to raise awareness of the ways design and architecture have been complicit in reinforcing systems of oppression which reproduce socio-spatial and political conditions, undermining people’s control over their built environment. This includes the role design plays in supporting the disempowerment of the Black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPOC), people who identify with the LGBTQIA2+ community, persons with disabilities (PWD), as well as all visible minorities. We recognize the oppressed voices of marginalized peoples, and aim to amplify them so they may also be fully recognized as people who are integral in the growth of this field.
We question the trajectory of design education through conversation within the student body and faculty so we may broaden our perspectives and understand the inevitable impacts our work has. As a group, we want to challenge SAPL to better recognize lives outside of the white, cis-gendered, normative male body, as well as issues (not limited to) surrounding poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, global trade, modern day slavery, and accessibility. Through addressing these issues, we also begin to unravel and critically examine design’s colonial history, the lack of diversity in the design field, and the negative impacts it has always imposed on marginalized communities.
Why we do it
In order to expose, educate, and aid in the fight against social injustices, all schools around the world must participate and raise questions around design education. The issue is not rooted in one university, or one place. This is a fight against the pedagogy of design education. Therefore, it is our obligation as designers in training to advocate, raise awareness, and most importantly provide solutions and alternatives to current design and education practices. We need to hold ourselves, and our institutions accountable to have meaningful engagements regarding issues of equity and inclusion. By choosing this field of work, it is important we understand the responsibilities we hold in representing a holistic view of our communities and the consequences of ignoring uncomfortable issues that do not directly relate to our own lives.
How can you help
Collaboration is key to making impactful and lasting change. As students we ask you to join the fight against social injustices in the design community. We understand this is a deep-rooted systemic issue, therefore join us in advocating to dethrone the hierarchy responsible for making decisions that negatively impact our built and natural environment, including present and future generations of marginalized communities.