The Rhode Island School of Design Aims to Diversify Its Faculty

According to a recent analysis by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, only 3 percent of the professionals in the design industry are African Americans.  The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the nation’s most prestigious educational institutions in the field has a student body that is just 4 percent Black, according to the latest data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education.

Now the RISD has announced that it is hiring 10 new faculty members as part of a cluster hire initiative focused on race and decolonization in art and design. The school has launched a search for 10 new full-time faculty members with expertise in the areas of race, colonization, decolonization, post-coloniality, and cultural representation, as well as in material practices of resistance. Of the 10 new positions, four are in the liberal arts and experimental and foundation studies divisions, three in architecture and design, and three in fine arts. The search committees intend to prioritize candidates whose scholarship, practice, and pedagogies relate to the African American and African diasporas The “Race in Art & Design” cluster-hire initiative is made possible through one of the largest anonymous gifts in the institution’s history.

“We repeatedly heard from our community that the most definitive transformation we could make would be to increase the diversity of the scholarship of our faculty and thereby our pedagogy,” says Rosanne Somerson, president of the RISD. “This initiative will bring 10 new faculty members to RISD in fall 2021, launching a fundamental transformation toward diversifying and expanding our curricula.”


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