Through the disparities of its impact across our communities, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical and long-standing inequities. Among them are access to essential resources: health care, housing, education, economic opportunity, and a fundamental expectation of security and safety in the public realm. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and too many others, have amplified these pervasive inequities. As our country grapples with the consequences of its enduring legacy of racism, the imperative to effect systemic change demands our individual and collective action.
The National Architectural Accrediting Board is committed to working with the collateral organizations of Architecture to realize meaningful change. The Conditions for Accreditation are the primary means by which the NAAB reviews US-based programs granting professional degrees in architecture. Mindful that architecture education has a direct impact on the environment we live in, NAAB developed with ACSA, AIA, AIAS, NCARB and NOMA the following requirements in the newly adopted 2020 Conditions for Accreditation. We are committed to ensuring that these requirements become more than platitudes. As a structure for continuous improvement, each accredited program must address:
- The Shared Value of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Architects commit to equity and inclusion in the environments we design, the policies we adopt, the words we speak, the actions we take, and the respectful learning, teaching, and working environments we create. Architects seek fairness, diversity, and social justice in the profession and in society and support a range of pathways for students seeking access to an architecture education.
- The Program Criteria of Social Equity and Inclusion: How the program furthers and deepens students’ understanding of diverse cultural and social contexts and helps them translate that understanding into built environments that equitably support and include people of different backgrounds, resources, and abilities.
- The specific targeted actions that the program has taken since the previous NAAB visit to advance diversity and to ensure that a range of voices is represented in its academic units.
As an organization we are working with our collateral partners to broaden the diversity of our board and our visiting teams to ensure that a variety of perspectives are enlisted in shaping NAAB policy and reviewing academic programs. We also recognize that the Board, our staff, and our visiting teams must clearly understand and espouse the NAAB’s values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Focus on this topic as we move forward with implementation of the new Conditions is scheduled for this fall.
We stand with our collateral organizations in a commitment to create a space for dialogue and engagement that will bring about much-needed change. We believe that through the actions of each organization and through our collective actions, we can help to make a meaningful and lasting transformation in accredited education, within our profession, and in our country.