The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) has joined its sibling organizations in landscape architecture and planning in opposing the concerted efforts of far-right lawmakers to prevent the inclusion of race and racism topics into curricula in states including Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, South Dakota, and Virginia.
“This united declaration stands as a strong objection to the legislation that silences educators from sharing the histories of the architectural profession. Practitioners, educators, and students must be granted access to the complete narrative. Being privy to only a portion of the story significantly disadvantages us all,” Mo Zell, the 2023-24 ACSA President, said in a statement.
“The boards of directors of the three organizations representing university programs and educators in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning — ACSA, CELA, and ACSP, — jointly communicate our opposition to any legislation that prevents educators from teaching and sharing complete and accurate knowledge about the built environment for the purpose of shielding students from ‘divisive’ or ‘disagreeable’ content related to the impact of race and racism in American and global society, as well as other pedagogy related to gender and LGBTQ+ identities,” a portion of the organizations’ statement reads.
“These laws serve to suppress student exploration of pressing issues that affect the country and that are essential to preparing future practitioners in the built environment disciplines,” it continues.
The states in question have been increasingly in thrall with the notion that any mention of racial inequality, gender studies, the existence of trans and nonbinary people, structural racism, or other related topics in the classroom is unacceptably biased and/or inaccurate and pernicious as certain lawmakers and governors look towards identity politics as a main talking point in their various reelection appeals.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Gregg Abbott have both been at the forefront of the movement, going as far as to initiate book bannings and other legislation that codifies an alarming culture of academic censorship, according to the ACLU.
Laws, in some instances, allow for the close administrative monitoring of professors teaching theories espousing views that “systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” Lawsuits have been enacted to challenge these crackdowns, but the push towards greater state government intervention, in many cases, remains difficult to keep pace with legally.
The joint statement goes on to note that “decisions to eliminate certain sectors of discourse in public institutions [are] especially concerning, because they impinge on students’ right to free speech, on the basic principles of faculty’s academic freedom, and on the ability of American citizens to participate fully in democratic use of our shared resources.”
The ACSA has asked its members to share their statement as a “basis for advocacy in their local contexts.” Additional information and resources can be found here.
This content was originally published here.