Diversity & Inclusion

School of Planning, Design and Construction:
Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

Download the SPDC Statement of Diversity and Inclusion.

The School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) is committed to improving recruitment and retention of a diverse academic community that includes undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff  in our various majors and professions. Our inclusive approach is to respect and value differences that diversity brings and to encourage and embrace an environment that allows us to celebrate inclusion through teaching, research and outreach. 

Michigan State University (MSU) prides itself on three core values: quality, inclusiveness, and connectivity. The SPDC strives to produce the best quality in research, teaching, scholarship and professional practice. Our faculty, staff and students are actively engaged to think differently and outside our individual comfort zones about our work, about each other, and about our roles in academia and professional practice locally, nationally and globally. Lecture, seminar, studio and study abroad courses highlight various aspects of the aforementioned values within the local and international communities. This approach allows students to gain an understanding of the various social, economic, and environmental justice aspects that are paramount to our ability to be inclusive facilitators with respect to these issues in diverse communities. Not only does this environment produce the best quality of work, it helps to create an inclusive environment in which diversity is not only recognized but supported, valued and nurtured.

The SPDC pledges to be at the forefront to foster our philosophy of diversity and inclusion to our students, faculty and staff, and to our industries and professional stakeholders. In pursuit of our goal for an inclusive community, we pursue academic excellence and cultural competency in our four degree areas at the local, national and global levels.

Diversity and Construction Management

The Construction Management Program at SPDC recognizes, appreciates and fosters the advantages created when the instructional environment values the differences in individuals and practices diversity and inclusiveness and open communication among the faculty, staff and students. This translates to a true commitment to not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Developing and maintaining a widely diverse student body, staff and faculty is one of the most important and challenging issues we face. It is imperative that we continually strive for innovative ways to understand and respond to disparate needs of a diverse faculty, staff and student body as well as the society we serve.

The future will depend upon the critical skills of an increasingly diverse workforce to deliver construction projects of the highest quality as expected by both owners and consumers. Building and sustaining a diverse workforce has emerged as an important investment that the industry requires to maintain competitiveness and future success.

Increasing and sustaining diversity and inclusion in the Construction Management (CM) Program requires that in an ongoing and continual basis we share and commit to the goals and objectives of diversity and inclusiveness that provides a supportive environment for faculty, staff and students. Therefore, we continuously seek ways to encourage, improve, and facilitate diversity at our graduate and undergraduate programs to contribute to transformation of our industry. We also strive to provide role models to our students by encouraging the recruitment of diverse faculty.

One of the most important issues of inclusion in construction relates to gender: the workforce in construction is dominated by males (i.e., at 90.4% rate in 2006 as reported by National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Statistics). 48th Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Annual International Conference Proceedings report that the average percentage of female faculty in the construction programs is improving, but is still at about 25% ("Perceptions of Female Faculty in Construction Higher Education Programs").

To encourage females’ inclusion in construction industry and academia, SPDC uses established programs at MSU, faculty and staff initiatives, alumni relations and industry-based scholarships and recognition. Our continued involvement with NAWIC is an example of this commitment, where one of our undergraduate female students was recognized with a scholarship by their Grand Rapids Chapter in 2012, and CM faculty have been invited to speak about topical subjects.

Fortunately, statistics show that women-owned firms are on the rise in construction with a 20% growth realized from 1997 to 2002 (Statistics). The CM program brings our distinguished alumni to speak and inspire our female students in construction entrepreneurship. As an example, in Fall, 2012, our program hosted Beverly Raphael Altman, a 2011 inductee of the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and the president and chief executive officer of the award-winning RCC Associates, Inc. (a general contracting firm specializing in high-end restaurant retail build outs and hospitality). During her visit to our program, Mrs. Altman had a lunch with students, presented her personal and professional background and current works that were followed by a roundtable talk. The event was evaluated as inspirational by our construction management female students.

Recent observations in one of the most attended U.S.-based academic construction conferences, Construction Research Congress (CRC), also show improved inclusion of females in construction field. In its 2012 event, over 18% of CRC attendees were females from academia (Construction 2012 Research Congress); where historically less than 5% females would be at attendance.

To contribute to this growing trend and inclusion of other underrepresented groups in our graduate and undergraduate programs, we engage closely with existing MSU establishments. Those programs include:

  • Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP): AGEP is an NSF program at MSU that supports recruitment, retention, and graduation of US students with an emphasis on underrepresented groups in doctoral programs of the natural and social sciences, mathematics, and engineering. In a monthly CrossTalk to about 50 graduate students, AGEP makes science accessible to a wide audience.

  • Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP): SROP accepts U.S. undergraduate students for summer research at MSU to inspire them for graduate study and careers in teaching and research.

  • The Summer Undergraduate Research Academy (SURA) of Michigan, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (2012), also offers research training to MSU undergraduates through an eight-week summer program with a follow-up in the fall.

  • Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantships (AAGA): MSU Graduate School’s AAGA recruitment program assists academic units in attracting a cohort of diverse students who have traditionally not participated in graduate programs in their units.

Diversity Statement for Interior Design

The Interior Design Program values diversity as an essential component of our commitment in line with the diversity mission of MSU and SPDC. This program respects and appreciates differences among individuals from all races, religions, national origins, ages, disabilities, sexual orientations and other diverse individual differences. The program is committed to promoting excellence in teaching, research, and outreach in our program by increasing the diversity among undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty who bring a variety of perspectives to our endeavors.

The Interior Design Program recognizes a lack of diversity in the interior design profession: About 80% of interior design students in the US were Caucasian and over 95% of ASID (American Society of Interior Design) student members were female, as reported by ASID in 2009 and 2004 respectively. Thus, we strive to educate and encourage more students from underrepresented groups to pursue interior design as a career. The progam's immediate diversity goal is to increase the diversity of undergraduate and graduate students by improving recruitment and retention of male students, as well as members of diverse racial and ethnic groups by utilizing the recruiting programs of MSU and SPDC. At the same time, we intend to reinforce the benefits of our inclusive environment by utilizing the cultural capital we possess and enhancing active interactions among the diverse groups in SPDC. The program's efforts aim to transform the interior design industry to become more welcoming to the wide diversity of designers, user groups and stakeholders.

The Interior Design Program strives to equip our students with an understanding of social justice, environmental responsibility, ethics and cultural diversity, as well as competence in creating innovative design solutions for various socio-economic and cultural groups. The program encourage students to embrace diverse cultural perspectives by offering more intercultural learning opportunities through a variety of studio practices for a variety of clients, including underprivileged groups and stakeholders in the global community. The program's diversity goal in teaching is to strengthen our curriculum and pedagogy by providing more engaging and challenging opportunities to students about diversity and social justice issues and by diversifying teaching and studio projects on various ethnic minority groups, gender issues, social justice and underserved neighborhoods.

The interior design faculty’s research and outreach focuses on cross-cultural studies, including cultural diversity in the built environment and culturally responsive design, as well as the well-being of underprivileged groups. The program's diversity goal in research and scholarship is to pursue a leadership role in the research on diversity and expand our efforts on diversity by increasing partnerships internationally and locally. In pursuit of our goal of having an inclusive community, we aim to pursue continuous academic excellence and cultural competency at the local, national, and global level within our field.

Diversity in Landscape Architecture

Members of the MSU Landscape Architecture major are committed to promoting respect for the rights and privileges of others, the understanding and appreciation of human differences, connectivity, inclusiveness, and the constructive expression of ideas. Members of the Landscape Architecture major at MSU recognize the value that diverse perspectives contribute to professional quality education and scholarly endeavors. Therefore, members of the MSU Landscape Architecture major are committed to improving recruitment and retention of a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff.

In the Landscape Architecture major there are identified strengths related to this commitment and the recognition that one should build on these assets to improve our efforts to increase the diversity of the applicant pool and to improve the retention of current students, faculty and staff. The Landscape Architecture faculty conducts research and teaches in a manner that addresses a broad range of issues relevant to the needs and concerns of underprivileged and/ or underrepresented communities. Community outreach is already a strong part of the studio curriculum. Through the service-learning studio projects, students and faculty work often with underprivileged communities in Michigan and internationally, where they interact with community members including parents, the elderly and youths that engage in cross-cultural learning. Faculty members lecture and serve as guest reviewers in programs around the world offering opportunities to reach out to potential applicants from multiple and diverse places, cultures and backgrounds. The faculty is a diverse body of scholars, practitioners, and teachers comprised of tenure-track academics, as well as adjuncts and affiliated faculty members and alumni lecturers that come from the profession and practice. Studios and lecture courses are offered that focus on social equity in local and international communities thus bringing all students into discussions of social, economic, environmental justice and opportunity.

Diversity and Inclusion Statement for Urban & Regional Planning

Urban and regional planners work with diverse groups to find a common and encompassing community vision. Diversity within the profession is essential to this work. Members of the American Planning Association and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning are committed to fostering such diversity.  

Urban and regional planning and SPDC actively encourages diversity and inclusion with faculty, staff and student representation through specific recruitment, curricular and retention strategies. The Urban and Regional Planning (URP) Program fosters a climate of inclusivity that appreciates and celebrates cultural difference regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national or state origin, age, disability and other unique differences.  

The URP Program assures student diversity with the adoption of implementable recruitment, retention, and curricular strategies. The program documents actual progress in implementing these strategies. The URP Program fosters a climate of inclusivity that appreciates and celebrates cultural difference through its recruitment and retention of students. It strives for a diverse student body makeup that reflects the practice settings where graduates work and/or where professional needs exist in our regions of recruitment and placement. Thirty two (32) percent of undergraduate planning students and 32.9% of graduate planning students are from a diverse background (academic year 2012-2013). The program understands that a demographic mix is not a static concept; thus, we seek to be in the forefront of an inclusive society.

The URP Program fosters a climate of inclusivity that appreciates and values cultural differences through its recruitment and retention of faculty members. The URP faculty also possesses characteristics of diversity that reflect the practice settings where graduates work and/or where professional needs exist in our region of recruitment and placement. Notwithstanding, the demographic make-up is not a static concept, and we continually seek to be in the forefront of a diverse faculty and society. The URP Program follows the following Planning Accreditation Board approved guidelines for our urban and regional planning faculty:

  1. Full-time faculty members demonstrate diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national or state origin, age, disability and other unique differences. 

  2. Full-time faculty members demonstrate diversity through their degrees being earned from a variety of universities, ability to conduct research in a variety of ways, and range of specialized knowledge covering program content.

  3. Policies and procedures are in place and followed to further equal employment opportunities.

  4. Adjuncts, lecturers, and guest speakers enhance the diversity of expertise, professional experiences, race/ethnicity and gender.

  5. We collect data which makes tracking of diversity issues in faculty recruitment and retention possible.

Urban and regional planning faculty continually strives to be at the forefront for better and more diverse and inclusive communities through teaching, outreach and research. Lecture, seminar and studio courses are offered that focus on social equity in local and international communities thus bringing all students into discussions of social, economic, environmental justice and opportunity. In pursuit of our goals for a diverse and inclusive community, we pursue academic excellence and cultural competency at the local, national and global level.

SPDC Diversity and Inclusion Committee

  • Herb Norman, Chair, Urban & Regional Planning.
  • Sinem Mollaoglu, Construction Management.
  • Eunsil Lee, Interior Design.
  • Jon Burley, Landscape Architecture.

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